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'To him that worketh not, but belleveth."— Rom. iv. 2, 



There seem to be many, in our day, who 

are seeking God. Yet they appear to be 

but "feeling after him in order to find 

him," as if he were either a distant or an 

"unknown God." They forget that ." he 

is NOT FAR from every one of us," (Acts 

xvii. 27) ; for " in him we live, and move, 

and have our being." 

To know that He is not far ; that he has 

come down ; that he has come nigh ; this 

is the " beginning of the gospel." It gives 

direct denial to the vain thoughts of those 

who think that they must bring Him nigh 

by their prayers and devout performances. 

He has shewn himself to us, that we may 



know him, and in knowing him find the 
life of our souls. 

With some, who name the name of Christ, 
religion is a very unfinished thing. It is 
by no means satisfactory either to the man 
himself, or to the onlookers. There is 
much awanting. The man is anxious and 
earnest, but if he has not "peace with 
God," he has not what God calls " religion." 

Acceptance with God lies at the founda- 
tion of all religion ; for there must be an 
accepted worshipper, before there can be 
acceptable worship. Religion is with many 
merely the means of averting God's dis- 
pleasure, and securing his favour.- It is 
often, irksome, but they do not feel easy in 
neglecting it ; and they hope that by it 
they will obtain forgiveness before they 

This, however, is the inversion of God's 
order, and is in reality the worship of an 


unknoivn God. It terminates in forgive- 
ness ; whe?3as God's religion begins with 
it. All fidse religions, though outwardly 
differing very widely, are made up of ear- 
nest efforts to secure for the religionist the 
divine favour now, and eternal life at last. 
The one true religion is seen in the holy 
life of those who, having found for them- 
selves forgiveness and favour, in believing 
the the record which God has given of his Son, 
are walking with him from day to day, in 
the calm but sure consciousness of being 
entirely accepted, and working for him 
with the happy earnestness of those whose 
reward is his constant smile of love ; who 
having been much forgiven, love much, 
and shew forth, by daily sacrifice and ser- 
vice, how much they feel themselves debtors 
to a redeeming God, debtors to his Church, 
and debtors to the world in which they live. 
(Bom. i. 14.) 


But if this be true religion, how much is 
there of the false ? 

It is not good that men should be all 
their life seeking God, and never finding 
him ; that they should be ever learning, and 
never able to come to the knowledge of 
the truth. It is not good to be always 
doubting ; and, when challenged, to make 
the untrue excuse that they are only 
doubting themselves, not God; that they 
are only dissatisfied with their own faith, 
but not with its glorious object. It is not 
good to believe in our own faith, still less 
in our own doubts, which some seem to do, 
making the best doubter to be the best be- 
liever ; as if it were the gold of the cup. 
not the living water which it contains, that 
was to quench our thirst ; and as if it were 
unlawful to take that precious water from 
a poor earthen vessel, such as our imperfect 
faith must ever be. Ah, in this momentous 


thing, surely it is with the water and not 
with the vessel that the thirsty soul has to 
do ? What matters it though the vessel 
be one of skin, or earthenware, — nay, 
though it be but " a sherd to take up water 
from the pit," (Isa. xxx. 14). It is not the 
quality of the vessel, but the quality of the 
water, that the thirsty soul thinks of ; and 
he, whose pride will not allow him to drink 
out of a soiled and broken pitcher, must die 
of thirst. So he who puts away the sure 
reconciliation of the cross, because .of an 
imperfect faith, must die the death. He 
who says, " I believe the right thing, but I 
don't believe it in the right way, and there- 
fore I can't have peace ;" is the man whose 
pride is such, that he is determined not to 
quench his thirst save out of a cup of gold. 
Some have tried to give directions to sin- 
ners " how to get converted," multiplying 
words without wisdom, leading the sinner 


away from the cross by setting him upon 
doing, not upon believing. Our business 
is not to give any such directions, but, as 
the apostles did, to preach Christ crucified, 
a present Saviour and a present salvation. 
Then it is that sinners are converted, as the 
Lord himself said, " I, if I be lifted up, will 
draw all men unto me," (John xii. 32). 

In the following chapters there are some 
things which may appear repetitions. But 
this could not easily be avoided, as there 
were certain truths as well as certain 
errors that necessarily came up at different 
points and under different aspects. I need 
not apologise for these, as they were, in a 
great measure, unavoidable. They take 
up very little space, and I do not think 
they will seem at all superfluous to any one 
who reads for profit and not for criticism. 

Kelso, December 1861. 




man's own character no ground of' peace, 9 

god's character our resting-place, . . 26 

righteous grace, 41 

THE blood of sprinkling, .... 61 










BELIEVE JUST NOW, . . . . 116 










Gen. vi. 5-12. 

Eccl. vii. 29. 

Rom. iii. 9-19 

Job xv. 14-16. 

Isa. liii. 6. 

Eph. ii, 1-3. 

Psa. xiv. 1-3. 

John xv. 18-24. 

Titus iii. 3.,5. 

Rom. i. 21-32. 

1 John v. 19. 

God knows us. He knows what we are ; 
he knows also what he meant us to be ; 
and upon the difference between these two 
states he founds his testimony concerning' 

He is too loving to say anything need- 
lessly severe ; too true to say anything un- 
true ; nor can he have any motive to mis- 



represent us ; for he loves to tell of the good, 
not of the evil, that may be found in any 
of the works of his hands. He declared 
them " good," " very good," at. first ; and if 
he does not do so now, it is not because he 
would not, but because he cannot ; for " all 
flesh has corrupted its way upon the earth," 
(Gen. vi. 12). 

God's testimony concerning man is, that 
he is a sinner. He bears -witness against 
him, not for him, and testifies that " there 
is none righteous, no, not one ;" that there 
is " none that doeth good ;" none " that 
understandeth ;" none that even seeheth 
after God, and still more none that loveth 
him. (Psa. xiv. 1-3; Rom. iii. 10-12.) 
God speaks of man kindly, but severely ; 
as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one 
who will make no terms with sin, and will 
" by no means clear the guilty." He de- 
clares man to be a lost one, a stray one, a 
rebel, nay a " hater of God," (Rom. i. 30) ; 
not a sinner occasionally, but a sinner 



always ; not a sinner in part, with many 
good tilings about him ; but wholly a sin- 
ner, with no compensating goodness ; evil 
in heart as well as life, " dead in trespasses 
and sins," (Eph. ii. 1) ; an evil doer, and 
therefore under condemnation ; an enemy 
of God, and therefore " under wrath ;" a 
breaker of the righteous law, and therefore 
under " the curse of the law," (Gal. iii. 10). 
Man has fallen ! Not this man or that 
man, but the whole race. In Adam all 
have sinned ; in Adam all have died. It 
is not that a few leaves have faded or been 
shaken down, but the tree has become cor- 
rupt, root and branch. The " flesh," or " old 
man" — that is, each man as he is born into 
the world, a son of man, a fragment of 
humanity, a unit in Adam's fallen body, — 
is " corrupt." He not merely brings forth 
sin, but he carries it about with him, as his 
second self ; nay, he is a " body" or mass of 
sin (Horn. vi. 6), a " body of death" (Rom. 
vii. 24), subject not to the law of God, but 

4 god's testimony 

to "the law of. sin," (Rom. vii. 23). The 
Jew, educated tinder the most perfect of 
laws, and in the most favourable circum- 
stances, was the best type of humanity, — 
of civilised, polished, educated humanity ; 
the best specimen of the first Adam's sons ; 
yet God's testimony concerning him is that 
he is " under sin," that he has gone astray, 
and that he has " come short of the glory 
of God." 

The outer life of a man is not the man, 
just as the paint on a piece of timber is 
not the timber, and as the green moss upon 
the hard rock is not the rock itself. The 
picture of a man is not the man ; it is but 
a skilful arrangement of colours which look 
like the man. So it is the bearing of the 
soul toward God that is the true state of 
the man. The man that loves God with 
all his heart is in a right state ; the man 
that does not love him thus is in a wrong 
one. He is a sinner ; because his heart is 
not right with God. He may think his life 


a good one, and others may think the 
same ; but God counts him guilty, worthy 
of death and hell. The outward good can- 
not make up for the inward eviL The 
good deeds done to his fellow-men can- 
not be set off against his bad thoughts of 
God. And he must be full of these bad 
thoughts so long as he does not love this 
infinitely loveable and infinitely glorious 
Beincr with all his strength. 

God's testimony then concerning man is, 
that he does not love God with all his 
heart ; nay, that he does not love him at 
alL Not to love our neigbour is sin ; not 
to love a parent is greater sin ; but not to 
love God, our divine parent, is greater sin 

Man need not try to say a good word for 
himself, or to plead " not guilty," unless he 
can shew that he loves, and has always 
loved God with his whole heart and soul. 
Tf he can truly say this, he is all right, he 
is not a sinner, and does not need pardon. 

A 2 


He will find his way to the kingdom with- 
out the cross and without a Saviour. But, if 
he cannot say this, " his mouth is stopped," 
and he is " guilty before God." However 
favourably a good outward life may dispose 
himself and others to look upon his case 
just now, the verdict will go against him 
hereafter. This is man's day, when man's 
judgments prevail ; but God's day is com- 
ing, when the, case shall be strictly tried 
upon its real merits. Then the Judge of 
all the earth shall do right, and the sinner 
be put to shame. 

There is another and yet worse charge 
against him. He does not believe on the 
name of the Son of God, nor love the Christ 
of God. This is his sin ol sins. That his 
heart is not right with God is the first 
charge against him. That his heart is not 
right with the Son of God is the second. 
And it is this second that is the crowning, 
crushing sin, carrying with it more terrible 
damnation than all other sins together 


" He that believeth not is condemned al- 
ready ; because he hath not believed in the 
name of the only begotten Son of God," 
(John iii. 18). " He that believeth not God, 
hath made him a liar ; because he believeth 
not the record which God gave of his Son," 
(1 John v. 10). "He that believeth not 
shall be damned," (Mark xvi. 16). Hence 
it was that the apostles preached " repent- 
ance toward God, and faith toward our 
Lord Jesus Christ," (Acts xx. 21). /And 
hence it is that the first sin which the Holy 
Spirit brings home to a man is unbelief ; 
u when he is come lie will reprove the world 
of sin, because they believe not on me," 
(John xvi. 8, 9). 

Such is God's condemnation of man. Of 
this the whole Bible is full. That great 
love of God which his word reveals is based 
on this condemnation. It is love to the 
condemned. God's testimony to his own 
grace has no meaning, save as resting on or 
taking foi granted his testimony to man's 

8 god's testimony concerning man. 

guilt and ruin. Nor is it against man as 
merely a being morally diseased or sadly 
unfortunate that lie testifies ; but as guilty 
of death, under wrath, sentenced to the 
eternal curse ; for that crime of crimes, a 
heart not right with God, and not true to 
his Incarnate Son. 

This is a divine verdict, not a human 
one. It is God, not man, who condemns, 
and God is not a man that he should He. 
This is God's testimony concerning man, 
and we know taat this witness is true, ,J, 



Prov. xxviii. 


Jer. xvii. 5. 

1 Cor. 1. 29. 

Jer. ii. 35-37. 

Hosea x. 13. 

Gal. ii. 161 

.. vii. 4. 

Luke xviii. 9. 

.. iii. 10. 

.. ix.23. 

Rom. iii. 9-20. 

Phil. iii. 3, 4. 

.. xiii.25. 

.. x. 3. 

1 John i. 8, 10. 

If God testify against us, who can testify 
for us ? If God's opinion of man's sinful- 
ness, his judgment of man's guilt, and his 
declaration of sin's evil be so very decided, 
there can be no hope of acquittal for us on 
the ground of personal character or good- 
ness, either of heart or life. That which 
God sees in us furnishes only matter for 
condemnation, not for pardon. 

It is vain to struggle or murmur agajnst 
God's judgment He is the Judge of all 

10 man's own character 

the earth ; and he is right as well as sove- 
reign in his judgment. He must be obeyed ; 
his law is inexorable ; it cannot be broken 
without making the breaker of it (even in 
one jot or tittle) worthy of death. 

When the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of 
the soul it sees this. Conviction of sin is 
just the sinner seeing himself as he is, and 
as God has all along seen him. Then every 
fond idea of self-goodness, either in whole or 
in part, vanishes away. The things in him 
that once seemed good appear so bad, and 
the bad things so very bad, that every self- 
prop falls from beneath him, and all hope 
of being saved, in consequence of some- 
thing in his own character, is then taken 
away. He sees that he cannot save him- 
self; nor help God to save him. He is 
lost, and he is helpless. Doings, feelings, 
strivings, prayings, givings, abstainings, 
and the like, are found to be no relief from 
a sense of guilt, and, therefore, no resting- 
place for a troubled heart. If sin were but 


a disease or a misfortune, these apparent 
good things might relieve him, as being 
favourable symptoms of returning health ; 
but when sin is guilt even more than 
disease; and when the sinner is not merely 
sick, but condemned by the righteous 
judge ; then none of these goodnesses in 
himself can reach his case, for they cannot 
assure him of a complete and righteous 
pardon, and, therefore, cannot pacify his 
roused and wounded conscience. 

He sees God's unchangeable hatred of 
sin, and the coming revelation of his wrath 
against the sinner ; and he cannot but 
tremble. An old writer thus describes his 
own case, " I had a deep impression of the 
things of God ; a natural condition and sin 
appeared worse than hell itself ; the world 
and vanities thereof terrible and exceeding 
dangerous ; it was fearful to have ado with 
it, or to be rich ; I saw its day coming ; 
Scripture expiessions were weighty; a 
Saviour was a big thing in mine eyes : 


Christ's agonies were earnest with me ; I 
thought that all my days I was in a dream 
till now, or like a child in jest ; and I 
thought the world was sleeping." 

The question, "Wherewith shall I come 
before the Lord ?" is not one which can be 
decided by an appeal to personal character, 
or goodness of life, or prayers, or perform- 
ances of religion. The way of approach is 
aot for us to settle. God has settled it ; 
and it only remains for us to avail our- 
selves of it. He has fixed it on grounds 
altogether irrespective of our character ; or 
rather on grounds which take for granted 
simply that we are sinners, and that there- 
fore the element of goodness in us, as a 
title, or warrant, or recommendation, is al- 
together inadmissible, either in whole or 
in part 

To say, as some inquiring ones do at the 
outset of their anxiety, I will set myself to 
pray, and after I have prayed a sufficient 
length of time, and with tolerable earnest- 


ness, I may approach and count upon ac- 
ceptance, is not only to build upon the 
quality and quantity of our prayers, but it 
is to overlook the real question before the 
sinner, " How. am I to approach God in 
order to pray ?" All prayers are ap- 
proaches to God, and the sinner's anxious 
question is, "How may I approach God?" 
God's explicit testimony to man is, "You 
are unfit to approach me ;" and it is a de- 
nial of the testimony to say, " I will pray 
myself out of this unfitness into fitness ; I 
will work myself into a right state of mind 
and character for drawing near to God." 
Anxious spirit ! Were you from this mo- 
ment to cease from sin, and do nothing but 
good all the rest of your life, it would not 
do. Were you to begin praying now, and 
do nothing else but pray ail your days, it 
would not do ! Your own character cannot 
be your way of approach, nor your ground 
of confidence toward God. No amount of 
praying, or working, or feeling, can satisfy 



the righteous law, or pacify a guilty con- 
science, or quench the flaming . sword that 
guards the access into the presence of the 
infinitely Holy One. 

That which makes it safe for you to draw 
near to God, and right for God to receive 
you, must be something altogether away 
from and independent of yourself ; for 
yourself and everything pertaining to your- 
self, God has already condemned ; and no 
condemned thing can give you any warrant 
for going to him, or hoping for acceptance. 
Your liberty of entrance must come from, 
something "which he has accepted ; not 
from something which he has condemned. 

I knew an awakened soul who, in the 
bitterness of his spirit, thus set himself to 
work and pray in order to get peace. He 
doubled the amount of his devotions, saying 
to himsolf, Surely God will give me peace. 
But the peace did not come. He set up 
family worship, saying, Surely God will 
give me peace. But the peace came not. 


At last he bethought himself of having a 
prayer-meeting in his house as a certain 
remedy. He fixed the night ; called his 
neighbours ; and prepared himself for con- 
ducting the meeting, by writing a prayer 
and learning it by heart. As he finished 
the operation of learning it, preparatory to 
the meeting, he threw it down on the table, 
saying, " Surely that will do, God will give 
me peace now." In that moment, a still 
small voice seemed to speak in his ear, say- 
ing, " No, that will not do ; but Christ will 
do." Straightway the scales fell from his 
eyes, and the burden from his shoulders. 
Peace poured in like a river. " Christ will 
do," was his watchword for life. 

Very clear is God's testimony against 
man, and man's doings, in this great matter 
of approach and acceptance. "Not by 
works of righteousness which we have 
done," says Paul in one place (Titus iii. 5), 
and " to him that worketh not," says he in 
a second (Rom. iv. 4) ; "not justified by 


the works of the law," says he in a third 
(Gal. ii. 16). 

The sinner's peace with God is not to 
come from his own character. No grounds 
of peace or elements of reconciliation can 
be extracted from himself, either directly 
or indirectly. His one qualification for 
peace is, that he needs it. It is not what 
he has, bat what he lacks of good that 
draws him to God ; and it is the con- 
sciousness of this lack that bids him look 
elsewhere, for something both to invite and 
embolden him to approach. It is our sick- 
ness, not our health, that fits us for the 
physician, and casts us upon his skill. 

No guilty conscience can be pacified with 
anything short of that which will make 
pardon a present, a sure, and a righteous 
thing. Can our best doings, our best feel- 
ings, our best prayers, our best sacrifices, 
bring this about % Nay ; having accumu- 
lated these to the utmost, does not the 
sinner feel that pardon is just as far off 


and uncertain as before ? and that all his 
earnestness cannot persuade God to admit 
him to favour, or bribe his own conscience 
into true quiet even for an hour ? 

In all false religion, the worshipper rests 
his hope of divine favour upon something 
in his own character, or life, or religious 
duties. The Pharisee did this when he 
came into the temple, " thanking God that 
he was not as other men," (Luke xviii. 11). 
So do those in our day who think to get 
peace by doing, feeling, and praying more 
than others, or than they themselves have 
done in time past ; and who refuse to take 
the peace of the free gospel till they have 
amassed such an amount of this doing and 
feeling as will ease their consciences, and 
make them conclude that it would not be 
fair in God to reject the application of men 
so earnest and devout as they. The Gala- 
tians did this also when they insisted on 
adding the law of Moses to the gospel of 
Christ as the ground of confidence toward 



God. Thus do many act among ourselves. 
They will not take confidence from God's 
character or Christ's work, but from their 
own character and work ; though in refer- 
ence to all this it is written, "The Lord hath 
rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not 
prosper in them," (Jer. ii. 37). They object 
to a present confidence, for that assumes 
that a sinner's resting-place is wholly out 
of himself, — ready-made, as it Were, by God. 
They would have this confidence to be a 
very gradual thing, in order that they may 
gain time, and, by a little diligence in re- 
ligious observances, may so add to their 
stock of duties, prayers, experiences, devo- 
tions, that they may, with some humble 
hope, as they call it, claim acceptance from 
God. By this course of devout living they 
think they have made themselves more 
acceptable to God than they were before 
they began this religious process, and much 
more entitled to expect the divine favour 
than those who have not so qualified them- 


selves. In all this the attempted resting- 
place is self, — that self which God has 
condemned. They would not rest upon 
wftpraying, or wwworking, or «%devout 
self; but they think it light and safe to 
rest upon praying, and working, and de- 
vout self and they call this humility ! The 
happy confidence of the simple believer who 
takes God's word at once, and rests on it, 
they call presumption or fanaticism ; their 
own miserable uncertainty, extracted from 
the doings of self, they speak of as a humble 

The sinner s own character, in any form, 
and under any process of improvement, 
cannot furnish reasons for trusting God. 
However amended, it cannot speak peace 
to his conscience, nor afford him any war- 
rant for reckoning on God's favour; nor 
can it help to heal the breach between him 
arid God. For God can accept nothing but 
perfection in such a case, and the sinner 
has nothing but imperfection to present. 

20 man's own character 

Imperfect duties and devotions cannot per- 
suade God to forgive. Besides, be it remem- 
bered that the person of the worshipper 
must be accepted before his services can be 
acceptable ; so that nothing can be of any 
use to the sinner save that which provides 
for personal acceptance completely, and at 
the outset. The sinner must go to God as 
lie is, or not at all. To try to pray himself 
into something better than a condemned 
sinner, in order to win God's favour, is to 
make prayer an instrument of self-right- 
eousness ; so that, instead of its being the 
act of an accepted man, it is the purchase 
of acceptance, — the price which we pay to 
God for favouring us, and the bribe with 
which we persuade conscience no longer to 
trouble us with its terrors. No knowledge 
of self, nor consciousness of improvement 
of self, can soothe the alarms of an aw T akened 
conscience, or be any ground for expecting 
the friendship of God. To take comfort 
from our good doings, or good feelings, or 


good plans, or good prayers, or good expe- 
riences, is to delude ourselves, and to say- 
peace when there is no peace. No man 
can quench his thirst with sand, or with 
water from the Dead Sea ; so no man can 
find rest from his own character however 
good, or from his own acts however religious. 
Even were he perfect, what enjoyment could 
there be in thinking about his own perfec- 
tion? What profit, then, can there be in 
thinking about his own imperfection ? 

Even were there many good things about 
him, they could not speak peace ; for the 
good things which might speak peace, could 
not make up for the evil things which speak 
trouble ; and what a poor, self-made peace 
would that be which arose from his think- 
ing as much good and as little evil of him- 
self as possible. And what a temptation, 
besides, would this furnish, to extenuate the 
evil and exaggerate the good about our- 
selves, — in other words, to deceive our own 
hearts. Self-deception must always, more 

22 man's own character 

or less, be the result of such estimates of 
our own experiences. Laid open, as we 
are, in such a case, to all manner of self- 
blinding influences, it is impossible that we 
can be impartial judges, or that we can be 
" without guile" (Psa. xxxii. 2), as in the 
case of those who are freely and at once 

One man might say, My sins are not very 
great or many ; surely I may take peace. 
Another might say, I have made up for my 
si as by my good deeds, I may have peace. 
Another might say, I have a very deep 
sense of sin, I may have peace. Another 
might say, I have repented of my sin, I 
may have peace. Another might say, I 
pray much, I work much, I love much, I 
give much, I may have peace. What temp- 
tation in all this to take the most favour- 
able view of self and its doings ! But, after 
all, it would be vain. There could be no 
real peace ; for its foundation would be 
sand, not rock. The peace or confidence 


which come from summing up the good 
points of our character, and thinking of our 
good feelings and doings, or about our faith, 
and love, and repentance, must be made 
up of pride. Its basis is self-righteousness, 
or at least self-approbation. 

It does not mend the matter to say that 
we look at these good feelings in us, as the 
Spirit's work, not our own. In one aspect 
this takes away boasting, but in another it 
does not. It still makes our peace to turn 
upon what is in ourselves, and not on what 
is in God. Nay, it makes use of the Holy 
Spirit for purposes of self-righteousness. 
It says that the Spirit works the change 
in us, in order that he may thereby fur- 
nish us with a ground of peace within 

No doubt the Spirit's work in us must be 
accompanied with peace ; but not because 
he has given us something in ourselves to 
draw our peace from. It is that kind of 
peace which arises unconsciously from tfce 

24 man's own character 

restoration of spiritual health ; but not that 
which Scripture calls "peace with God." 
It does not arise from thinking about the 
change wrought in us, but unconsciously 
and involuntarily from the change itself. 
If a broken limb be made whole, we get 
relief straightway ; not by thinking about 
the healed member, but simply in the bodily 
ease and comfort which the cure has given. 
So there is a peace arising out of the change 
of nature and character wrought by the 
Spirit ; but this is not reconciliation with 
God. This is not the peace which the 
knowledge of forgiveness brings. It accom- 
panies it, and flows from it, but the two 
kinds of peace are quite distinct from each 
other. Nor does even the peace which at- 
tends the restoration of spiritual health 
come at second hand, from thinking about 
our change ; but directly from the change 
itself. That change is the soul's new health, 
and this health is in itself a continual glad- 


Still it remains true, that in ourselves we 
have no resting-place. "No confidence in 
the flesh" must be our motto, as it is the 
foundation of God's gospel. 


god's character otjr resting-place. 

Deut. xxxiii. 26, 27. Jer. xvii. 13. John iii. 10. 

Job xxii. 21. Nah. i. 3, 7. ... xvii. 3. 

Tea. ix. 10. MIcah vii. IS. Rom. ii. 4. 

... xxxiv. 8. Hab. iii. 17, 18. James i. 17. 

Jer. ix. 24. Luke il. 14. 1 John iv. 9, 10. 

We have seen that a sinner's peace cannot 
come from himself, nor from the know- 
ledge of himself nor from thinking about 
his own acts and feelings, nor from the 
consciousness of any amendment of his old 

Whence, then, is it to come ? How does 
he get it ? 

It can only come from God ; and it is 
in knowing Goji that he gets it. God has 
written a volume for the purpose of mak- 

ing himself known ; and it is in this reve- 
lation of his character that the sinner is to 
find the rest that he is seeking. God him- 
self is the fountain-head of our peace ; his 
revealed truth is the channel through 
which this peace finds its way into us ; 
and his Holy Spirit is the great inter- 
preter of that truth to us. "Acquaint 
thyself now with God, and be at peace," 
(Job xxii. 21). Yes ; acquaintanceship 
with God is peace ! 

Had God told us that he was not 
gracious, that he took no interest in our 
welfare, and that he had no intention of 
pardoning us, we could have no peace and 
no hope. In that case our knowing God 
would only make us miserable. Our 
situation would be like that of the devils, 
who "believe and tremble" (James ii. 19) ; 
and the more that we knew of such a 
God, we should tremble the more. For 
how fearful a thing must it be to 
have the great God that made us, the 

28 god's character 

great Father of Spirits, against us, not 
for us ! 

Strange to say, this is the very state of 
disquietude in which we find many who 
profess to believe in a God " merciful and 
gracious ! " With the Bible in their 
hands, and the cross before their eyes, 
they wander on in a state of darkness and 
fear, such as would have arisen had God 
revealed himself in hatred, not in love. 
They seem to believe the very opposite of 
what the Bible teaches us concerning God; 
and to attach a meaning to the Cross, the 
very opposite of what the gospel declares 
it really bears. Had God been all frowns, 
and the Bible all terrors, and Christ all 
sternness, these men could not have been 
in a more troubled and uncertain state than 
that in which they are. 

How is this % Have they not misunder- 
stood the Bible ? Have they not mistaken 
the character of God, looking on him as 
an "austere man" and a "hard master"? 


Are they not labouring to supplement the 
grace of God by something on their part, 
as if they believed that this grace was not 
sufficient to meet their case, until they 
had attracted it to themselves by some 
earnest performances, or spiritual exer- 
cises, of their own ? 

God has declared himself to be gracious 
" God is love." He has embodied this 
grace in the person and work of his be- 
loved Son. He has told us that this grace 
i? for the rfngodly. the unholy, the unfit, 
the stouthearted, the dead in sin. The 
more, then, that w r e know of this God and 
of his grace, the more will his peace fill us. 
Nor will the greatness of our sins, and the 
hardness of our hearts, or the changeable- 
ness of our feelings, discourage or disquiet, 
however much they may humble, us, and 
make us dissatisfied with ourselves.. 

Let us study the character of God : — 
holy, yet loving ; the love not interfering 
with the holiness, nor the holiness with 


30 god's character 

the love ; absolutely sovereign, yet in- 
finitely gracious ; the sovereignty not 
straitening the grace, nor the grace the 
sovereignty ; drawing the unwilling, yet 
not hindering the willing, if any such 
there be ; quickening whom he will, yet 
having no pleasure in the death of the 
wicked ; compelling some to come in, yet 
freely inviting all ! Let us look at him in 
the face of Jesus Christ ; for He is the 
express image of his person, and he that 
hath seen Him hath seen the Father. 
The knowledge of that gracious character, 
as interpreted by the cross of Christ, is 
the true remedy for our disquietudes. 
Insufficient acquaivtanceship tuith God 
lies at the root of our fears and gloom. I 
know that flesh and blood cannot reveal 
God to you, and that the Holy Spirit 
alone can enable you to know either the 
Father or the Son. But I would not have 
you for a moment suppose that this Spirit 
is reluctant to do his work in vou ; nor 


would I encourage you in the awful 
thought, that you are willing while he is 
unwilling ; or that the sovereignty of God 
is a hindrance to the sinner, and a restraint 
of the Spirit. The whole Bible takes for 
granted that all this is absolutely impos- 
sible. Never can the great truths of 
divine sovereignty and the Spirit's work 
land us, as some seem to think .they may 
do, in such a conflict between a willing 
sinner and an unwilling God. The whole 
Bible is so written by the Spirit, and the 
gospel was so preached by the apostles, as 
never to raise the question of God's will- 
ingness, nor to lead to the remotest sus- 
picion of his readiness to furnish the 
sinner with all needful aid. Hence the 
great truths of God's eternal election, and 
Christ's redemption of his Church, as we 
read them in the Bible, are helps and 
encouragements to the soul. But, inter- 
preted as they are by many, they seem 
barrier- walls, rot ladders for scaling the 

32 god's character 

great barrier- wall of man's unwillingness ; 
and anxious souls become land-locked in 
metaphysical questions, out of which there 
can be no way of extrication save that of 
taking God at his word. 

In the Bible God has revealed himself. 
In Christ he has done so most expressively. 
He has done so that there might be no 
mistake as to it on the part of man. 

Christ's person is a revelation of God. 
Christ's work is a revelation of God. Christ's 
words are a revelation of God. He is in the 
Father, and the Father in him. His words 
and works are the words and works of the 
Father. In the manger he shewed us God. 
In the synagogue of Nazareth he shewed 
us God. At Jacob's well he shewed us God. 
At the tomb of Lazarus he shewed us God. 
On Olivet, as he wept over Jerusalem, he 
shewed us God. On the cross he shewed 
us God. In the tomb he shewed us God. 
In his resurrection he shewed us God. If 
we say with Philip, " Shew us the Father, 


and it sufiftceth us ;" he answers. "Have I 
been so long time with you, and yet hast 
thou not known me ? He that hath seen 
me hath seen the Father/' (John xiv. 8, 9). 
This God whom Christ reveals as the God 
of righteous grace and gracious righteous- 
ness, is the God with whom we have to do. 

To know his character as thus interpreted 
to us by Jesus and his cross, is to have peace. 
It is into this knowledge of the Father that 
the Holy Spirit leads the soul whom he is 
conducting, by his almighty power, from 
darkness to light. For everything that we 
know of God Ave owe to this divine Teacher, 
this Interpreter, this " One among a thou- 
sand," (Job xxxiii. 23). But never let the 
sinner imagine that he is more willing to 
learn than the Spirit is to teach. Never 
let him say to himself, " I would fain know 
God, but I cannot of myself, and the Spirit 
will not teach me." 

It is not enough for us to say to some 
dispirited cie, It is your unbelief that is 

34 god's character 

keeping you wretched; only believe and 
all is well. This is true ; but it is only 
general truth ; which, in many cases, is of 
no use, because it does not shew him how 
it applies to him. On this point he is often 
at fault ; thinking that faith is some great 
work to be done, which he is to labour at 
with all his might, praying all the while to 
God to help him in doing this great work ; 
and that unbelief is some evil principle, 
requiring to be uprooted before the gospel 
will be of any use to him. 

But what is the real meaning of this 
faith and this unbelief ? 

In all unbelief there are these two things, 
— a good opinion of one's self, and a bad 
opinion of God. So long as these two 
things exist, it is impossible for an inquirer 
to find rest. His good opinion ol himself 
makes him think it quite possible to win 
God's favour by his own religious perform- 
ances ; and his bad opinion of God makes 
him unwilling and afraid to put his case 


wliol'y into his hands. The object of the 
Holy Spirit's work, in convincing of sin, is 
to alter the sinner's opinion of himself, 
and so to reduce his estimate of his own 
character, that he shall think of himself 
as God does, and so cease to suppose it 
possible that he can be justified by any 
excellency of his own. Having altered the 
sinner's good opinion of himself, the Spirit 
then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to 
make him see that the God with whom he 
has to do is really the God of all grace. 

But the inquirer denies that he has a 
good opinion of himself, and owns himself 
a sinner. Now a man may say this ; but 
really to hnovj it is something more than 
saying. Besides, he may be willing to take 
the name of sinner to himself, in common 
with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own 
himself such a sinner as God says he is, — 
such a sinner as needs a whole Saviour to 
himself, — such a sinner as needs the cross, 
and blood, and righteousness of the Son of 

36 god's character 

God. He may not have quite such a ha 1 
opinion of himself as to make him sensible 
that he can expect nothing from God on 
the score of personal goodness, or amend- 
ment of life, or devout observance of duty, 
or superiority to others. It takes a great 
deal to destroy a man's good opinion of 
himself; and even after he has lost his 
good opinion of his works, he retains his 
good opinion of his heart ; and even after 
he has lost that, he holds fast his good 
opinion of his own religious duties, by 
means of which he hopes to make up for 
evil works and a bad heart. Nay, he hopes 
to be able so to act, and feel, and pray, as 
to lead God to entertain a good opinion ot 
him, and receive him into favour. 

All such efforts spring from thinking 
well of himself in some measure ; and also 
from his thinking evil of God, as if he 
would not receive him as he is. If he 
knew himself as God does, he would no 
more resort to such efforts than he would 


think of walking up an Alpine precipice. 
How difficult it is to make a man think 
of himself as God does ! What but the' 
almightiness of the Divine Spirit can ac- 
complish this 1 

But the inquirer says that he has not a 
bad opinion of God. But has he such an 
opinion of him as the Bible gives or the' 
cross reveals % Has he such an opinion of 
him as makes him feel quite safe in put- 
ting his soul into his gracious hands, and 
trusting him with its eternal keeping? 
If not, what is the extent or nature of his 
good opinion of God ? The knowledge of 
God, which the cross supplies, ought to set 
all doubt aside, and make distrust appear 
in the most odious of aspects, as a wretched 
misrepresentation of God's character and 
a slander upon his gracious name. Un- 
belief, then, is the belief of a lie and the 
rejection of the truth. It obliterates from, 
the cross the gracious name of God, and 

inscribes another name, the name of an 



33 god's character 

unknown god, in which there is no peace 
for the sinner and no rest for the weary. 

Accept, then, the character of God as 
given in the gospel ; read aright his blessed 
iame as it is written upon the cross ; take 
the simple interpretation given of his 
mind toward the ungodly, as you have it 
at length in the glad tidings of peace. Is 
not that enough ? If that which God has 
made known of himself be not enough to 
allay your fears, nothing else will. The 
Holy Spirit will not give you peace irre- 
spective of your views of God's character. 

hat would be countenancing the worship 
of a false god instead of the true God re- 
vealed in the Bible. It is in connection 
with the truth concerning the true God, 
" the God of all grace," that the Spirit gives 
peace. It is the love of the true God that 
he sheds abroad in the heart. 

The object of the Spirit's work is to 
make us acquainted with the true Jehovah ; 
that in him we may rest ; not to produce 


in us certain feelings, the consciousness of 
which will make us think better of our- 
selves, and give us confidence toward God. 
That which he shews us of ourselves is 
only evil ; that which he shews us of God 
is only good. He does not enable us to 
feel or to believe, in order that we may be 
comforted by our feeling or our faith. Even 
when working in us most powerfully he 
turns our eye away from his own work in 
us, to fix it on God, and his love in Christ 
Jesus our Lord. The substance of the 
gospel is the name of the great Jehovah, 
unfolded in and by Jesus Christ ; the cha- 
racter of him in whom we " live and move 
and have our being," as the "just God, 
yet the Saviour," (Is. xlv. 21), the Justifier 
of the ungodly. 

Inquiring spirit, turn your eye to the 
cross and see these two things, — the Cruci- 
fiers and the Crucified. See the Cruel- 
fiers, the haters of God and of his Son. 
They are yourself. Read in them your 


own character, and cease to think of mak- 
ing that a ground of peace. See the 
Crucified. It is God himself; incarnate 
love. It is the God who made you, suffer- 
ing, dying for the ungodly. Can you sus- 
pect his grace? Can you cherish evil 
thoughts of him ? Can you ask anything 
farther to awaken in you the fullest and 
most unreserved confidence ? Will you 
misinterpret that agony and death by say- 
ing either that they do not mean grace, or 
that the grace which they mean is not for 
you | Call to mind that which is written, — 
" Hereby perceive we the love of God, that 
he laid down his life for us," (1 John iii. 
16). " Herein is LOVE, not that we loved 
God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son 
to be the propitiation of our sins." (1 John 
iv. 10.) 



Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. Luke ii. 14 

1 Cor. i. 80. 

Psa. cxvi. 5. Rom. iii. 26. 

Heb. ii. 9. 

Isa. xxxii. 17. .. v. 21. 

1 John i. Q. 

We have spoken of God's character as "the 
God of all grace " (1 Pet. v. 10). We have 
seen that it is in " tasting that the Lord 
is gracious" that the sinner has peace 
(1 Pet. ii. 3). 

But let us keep in mind that this grace 
is the grace of a righteous God ; it is the 
grace of one who is Judge as well as 
Father. Unless we see this we shall mis- 
take the gospel, and fail in appreciating 
both the pardon we are seeking, and the 

great sacrifice through which it comes to 




us. No vague forgiveness, arising out of 
mere paternal love, will clo. We need to 
know what kind of pardon it is ; and 
whether it proceeds from the full recogni- 
tion of our absolute guiltiness by him who 
is to "judge the world in righteousness." 
The right kind of pardon comes not from 
love alone, but from law; not from good 
mature, but from righteousness; not from 
indifference to sin, but from holiness. 

The inquirer who is only half in earnest 
overlooks this. His feelings are moved, 
but his conscience is not roused. Hence 
he is content with very vague ideas of 
God's mere compassion for the sinner's 
unhappiness. To him human guilt seems 
but human misfortune, and God's ac- 
quittal of the sinner little more than the 
overlooking of his sin. He does not 
trouble himself with asking how the for- 
giveness comes, or what is the real nature 
of the love which he professes to have 
received. He is easily soothed to sleep, 


because he has never been fully awake. 
He is, at the best, a stony-ground hearer ; 
soon losing the poor measure of joy that 
he may have got ; becoming a formalist ; 
or perhaps a trifler with sin ; or, it may be, 
a religious sentimentalist. 

But he whose conscience has been 
pierced, is not so easily satisfied. He sees 
that the God, whose favour he is seeking, 
is holy as well as loving ; and that he has 
to do with righteousness as well as grace. 
Hence the first inquiry that he makes is 
as to the righteousness of the pardon which 
the grace of God holds out. He must be 
satisfied on this point, and see that the 
grace is right eons grace, ere he can enjoy 
it at all. The more alive that he is to 
his own unrighteousness, the more does he 
feel the need of ascertaining the right- 
eousness of the grace which we make 
known to him. 

It .does not satisfy him to say, that, 
since it comes from a righteous God, it 


must be righteous grace. His conscience 
wants to see the righteousness of the way 
by which it comes. Without this it can- 
not be pacified or " purged ;" and the man. 
is not made " perfect as pertaining to the 
conscience" (Heb. ix. 9-14) ; but must 
always have an uneasy feeling that all is 
not right ; that his sins may one day rise 
up against him. 

That which soothes the heart will not 
always pacify the conscience. The sight 
of the grace will do the former ; but only 
the sight of the righteousness of the grace 
will do the latter. Till the latter is done, 
there cannot be real peace. The hurt is 
healed slightly, and j3eace is spoken where 
there is no peace (Jer. vi. 14). The " heal- 
ing of the hurt " can only be brought about 
by speaking peace where there is peace. 

Here the work of Christ comes in ; and 
the cross of the Sin-bearer answers the 
question which conscience had raised, — " Is 
it righteous grace ?" It is this great work 


of propitiation that exhibits God as " the 
just God, yet the Saviour" (Is. xlv. 21) ; 
not only righteous in spite of his justify- 
ing the ungodly, but righteous in doing so. 
It shews salvation as an act of righteous- 
ness ; nay, one of the highest acts of right- 
eousness that a righteous God can do. It 
shews pardon not only as the deed of a 
righteous God, but as the thing which 
shews how righteous he is, and how he 
hates and condemns the very sin that he is 

Hear the word of the Lord concerning 
this " finished" work. " Christ died for 
our sins," (1 Cor. xv. 3). " He was wounded 
for our transgressions, he was bruised for 
our iniquities," (Is. liii. 3). "Christ was 
once offered to bear the sins of many," 
(Heb. ix. 28). " He gave himself for us," 
(Tit. ii. 14). " He was delivered for our 
offences," (Rom. iv. 25). " He gave himself 
for our sins," (Gal. i. 4). " Christ died for 
the ungodly," (Rom. v. 6). " He hath ap- 


peared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of 
himself," (Heb. ix. 26). " Christ hath suf- 
fered for us in the flesh," (1 Pet. iv. 1). 
" Christ hath once suffered for sins, the 
just for the unjust," (1 Pet. iii. 18). " His 
own self bare our sins in his own body on 
the tree" (1 Pet. ii. 24). 

These expressions speak of something 
more than love. Love is in each of them ; 
the deep, true, real love of God ; but 
also justice and holiness ; inflexible and 
inexorable adherence to law. They have 
no meaning apart from laiv; law as the 
foundation, pillar, keystone of the universe. 
But their connection with law is also 
their connection with love. For as t was 
law, in its unchangeable perfection, that 
constituted the necessity for the Surety's 
death, so it was this necessity that drew out 
the Surety's love, and gave also glorious 
proof of the love of him who made him to 
be sin for us (2 Cor. v. 21). For if a man 
were to die for another, when there was no 


necessity for his doing so, we should hardly 
call his death a proof of love. At best, 
such would be foolish love, or, at least, a 
fond and idle way of shewing it. But to 
die for one, when there is really need of 
dying, is the true test of genuine love. To 
die for a friend when nothing less will save 
him ; this is the proof of love ! When 
either he or we must die ; and when he, to 
save us from dying, dies himself ; this is 
love. There was need of a death, if we 
were to be saved from dying. Righteous- 
ness made the necessity. And, to meet 
this terrible necessity, the Son of God took 
flesh and died ! He died, because "it was 
written, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," 
(Ezek. xviii. 4). Love led him down to the 
cradle ; love led him up to the cross ! He 
died as the sinner s substitute. He died 
to make it a righteous thing in God to can- 
cel the sinner's guilt and annul the penalty 
of his everlasting death. 

Had it not been for this dying, grace 



and guilt could not have looked each other 
in the face ; God and the sinner could not 
have come nigh ; righteousness would have 
forbidden reconciliation ; and righteousness, 
we know, is as divine and real a thing as 
love. Without this expiation, it would 
not have been right for God to receive 
the sinner, nor safe for the sinner to 

But now, mercy and truth have met to- 
gether (Psa. lxxxv. 10) ; now grace is right- 
eousness, and righteousness is grace. This 
satisfies the sinner's conscience, by shew- 
ing him righteous love, for the unrighteous 
and unloveable. It tells him, too, that the 
reconciliation brought about in this way 
shall never be disturbed, either in this life 
or that which is to come. It is righteous 
reconciliation, and will stand every test, as 
well as last throughout eternity. The peace 
of conscience thus secured will be trial- 
proof, sickness-proof, deathbed-proof, judg- 
ment-proof. Realising this, the chief of 


sinners can say, " Who is he that con- 
demneth V 

What peace for the stricken conscience 
is there in the truth that Christ died for the 
ungodly ; and that it is of the ungodly 
that the righteous God is the Justifier ! 
The righteous grace thus coming to us 
through the sin-bearing work of the 
" Word made flesh," tells the soul, at once 
and for ever, that there can be no condem- 
nation for any sinner upon earth, who will 
only consent to be indebted to this free 
love of God, which, like a fountain of living 
water, is bursting freely forth from the 
foot of the Cross. 

Just, yet the Justifier of the ungodly! 
What glad tidings are here ! Here is 
GEACE ; God's free love to the sinner ; 
divine bounty and goodwill, altogether ir- 
respective of human worth or merit. For 
this is the scriptural meaning of that often 
misunderstood word "grace." 

This righteous free love has its origin in 


the bosom of the Father, where the only- 
begotten has his dwelling (John i. 18). It 
is not produced by anything out of God 
himself. It was man's evil, not his good, 
that called it forth. It was not the like 
drawing to the like, but to the unlike ; 
it was light attracted by darkness, and life 
by death. It does not wait for our seek- 
ing, it comes unasked as well as un- 
deserved. It is not our faith that creates 
it or calls it up ; our faith realises it as 
already existing in its divine and manifold 
fulness. Whether we believe it or not, 
this righteous grace exists, and exists for 
us. Unbelief refuses it ; but faith takes 
it, rejoices in it, and lives upon it. Yes, 
faith takes this righteous grace of God, 
and, with it, a righteous pardon, a right- 
eous salvation, and a righteous heirship of 
the everlasting glory. 



Gen. iii. 15. Lev. i. «. Dan. ix. 24. 

.. iv. 4. .. xri. 15-19. John i. 29. 

Exod. xii. 7-13. Isa. liii. 5. Gal. iiL 13. 

But an inquirer asks, What is the special 
meaning of the blood, of which we read 
so much ? How does" it speak peace ? 
How does it "purge the conscience from 
dead works" (Heb. ix. 14)? What can 
blood have to do with the peace, the 
grace, and the righteousness of which we 
have been speaking ? 

God has given the reason for the stress 
which he lays upon the blood ; and, in 
understanding this, we get to the very 
bottom of the grounds of a sinners peace. 


The sacrifices of old, from the days of 
Abel downward, furnish us with the key 
to the meaning of the blood, and explain 
the necessity for its being "shed for the 
remission of sins." " Not without blood " 
(Heb. ix. 7) was the great truth taught by 
God from the beginning ; the inscription 
which may be said to have been written 
on the gates of tabernacle and temple. 
For more than two thousand years, during 
the ages of the patriarchs, there was but 
one great sacrifice, — the burnt-offering. 
This, under the Mosaic service, was split 
into parts, — the peace*offering, trespass- 
offering, sin-offering, &c. In all of these, 
however, the essence of the original burnt- 
offering was preserved, — by the blood and 
the fire, which were common to them all. 
The blood, as the emblem of substitution, 
and the fire, as the symbol of God's wrath 
upon the substitute, were seen in all the 
parts of Israel's service ; but specially in 
the daily burnt-offering, the morning and 


evening lamb, which was the true con- 
tinuation and representative of the old 
patriarchal burnt- offering. It was to this 
that John referred when he said, " Behold 
the Lamb of God, that taketh away the 
sin of the world," (John i. 29). Israel's 
daily lamb was the kernel and core of all 
the Old Testament sacrifices ; and it was 
its blood that carried them back to the 
primitive sacrifices, and forward to the 
blood of sprinkling that was to speak 
better things than that of Abel, (Heb. xii. 

In all these sacrifices the shedding of the 
blood was the infliction of death. The 
"blood was the life," (Lev. xvii. 11,14; 
Deut. xii. 23) ; and the pouring out of the 
blood was " the pouring out of the soul" 
(Isa. liii. 12). This blood-shedding or life- 
taking was the payment of the penalty for 
sin ; for it was threatened from the begin- 
ning, " In the day thou eatest thereof thou 
slialfc surely die " (Gen. ii. 17) ; and it is 

E 2 


written, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" 
(Ezek. xviii. 3) ; and again, " The wages of 
sin is death " (Rom. vi. 23). 

But the blood-shedding of Israel's sacri- 
fices could not take sin away. ' It shewed 
the way in which this was to be done, but 
it was in fact more a* " remembrance of 
sins " (Heb. x. 3), than an expiation (Heb. 
x. 11). It said life must be given for life, 
ere sin can be pardoned ; but then the 
continual repetition of the sacrifices shewed 
that there was needed '" richer blood " than 
Moriah's altar was ever sprinkled with, 
and a more precious life than man could 

The great blood-shedding has been ac- 
complished ; the better life has been pre- 
sented ; and the one death of the Son 
of God has done what all the deaths of old 
could never do. His one life was enough ; 
his one dying paid the penalty ; and God 
does not ask two lives, or two deaths, or 
two payments. " Christ was once offered 


to bear the sins of many," (Heb. ix. 28). 
" In that lie died, he died unto sin once " 
(Rom. vi. 10). He " offered one sacrifice 
for sins for ever," (Heb. x. 12). 

The " sprinkling of the blood" (Ex. xxiv. 
8), was the making use of the death, by 
putting it upon certain persons or things, 
so that these persons or things were counted 
to be dead, and, therefore, to have paid the 
law's penalty. So long as they had not 
paid that penalty, they were counted un- 
clean and unfit for God to look upon ; but 
as soon as they had paid it, they were 
counted clean and fit for the service of God. 
Usually when we read of cleansing, we 
think*merely of our common process of re- 
moving stains by water and soap. But 
this is not the figure meant in the applica- 
tion of the sacrifice. The blood cleanses, 
not like the prophet's "nitre and much 
soap " (Jer. ii. 22), but by making us par- 
takers of the death of the Substitute. For 
what is it that makes us filthy before God? 


It is our guilt, our breach of law, and our 
being under sentence of death in conse- 
quence of our disobedience. We have not 
only done what God dislikes, but what his 
righteous law declares to be worthy of 
death. It is this sentence of death that 
separates us so completely from God, mak- 
ing it wrong for him to bless us, and peril- 
ous for us to go to him. 

When thus covered all over with that 
guilt whose penalty is death, the blood is 
brought in by the great High Priest. That 
blood represents death ; it is God's expres- 
sion for death. It is then sprinkled on us, 
and thus death, which is the law's penalty, 
passes on us. We die. We undergo the 
sentence ; and thus the guilt passes away. 
We are cleansed ! The sin which was like 
scarlet becomes as snow ; and that which 
was like crimson becomes as wool. It is 
thus that we make use of the blood of 
Christ in believing; for faith is just the 
sinner's employing the blood. Believing 


what God lias testified concerning this 
blood, we become one with Jesus in his 
death ; and thus we are counted in law, 
and treated by God, as men who have paid 
the whole penalty, and so been " washed 
from their sins in his blood " (Rev. i. 5).* 

Such are the glad tidings of life, through 
him who died. They are tidings which 
tell us, not what we are to do, in order to 
be saved, but what He has done. This 
only can lay to rest the sinner's fears ; can 
"purge his conscience;" can make him feel 
as a thoroughly pardoned man. The right 
knowledge of God's meaning in this sprink- 
ling of the blood, is the only effectual way 

* It is interesting to notice, in connection with this 
point, that the old Scotch terms in law for acquitting 
and condemning were " cleanse*' and " fyle" (that is, 
defile). In the assize held upon the faithful ministers 
of the Church of Scotland in 1>06, it was put to the 
court whether these said ministers should be "clenzed" 
or ''fyled,'" and the chancellor "declared that they 
were fyled by maniest votes " (See Caldeewood, voL 
vL p. 388). 


of removing the anxieties of the troubled 
soul, and introducing him into perfect 

The gospel is not the mere revelation of 
the heart of God in Christ Jesus. In it 
the righteousness of God is specially mani- 
fested (Rom. i. 17) ; and it is this revela- 
tion of the righteousness that makes it so 
truly " the power of God unto salvation," 
(Rom. i. 16). The bloodshedding is Gods 
declaration of the righteousness of the love 
which he is pouring down upon the sons of 
men ; it is the reconciliation of law and 
love ; the condemnation of the sin and the 
acquittal of the sinner. As " without shed- 
ding of blood there is no remission " (Heb. 
ix. 22) ; so the gospel announces that the 
blood ' has been shed by which remission 
flows ; and now we know that "the Son of 
God is come" (1 John v. 20), and that " the 
blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin," 
(1 John i. 7). The conscience is satisfied. 
It feels that God's grace is righteous 


grace, that his love is holy love. There it 

It is not by incarnation but by blood- 
shedding that we are saved. The Christ 
of God is no mere expounder of wisdom; no 
mere deliverer or gracious benefactor ; and 
they who think that they have told the whole 
gospel, when they have spoken of Jesus 
revealing the love of God, do greatly err. 
If Christ be not the Substitute, he is 
nothing to the sinner. If he did not die 
as the Sinbearer, he has died in vain. Let 
us not be deceived on this point, nor mis- 
led by those who, when they announce 
Christ as the Deliverer, think they have 
preached the gospel. If I throw a rope to 
a drowning man, I am a deliverer. But is 
Christ no more than that ? If I cast my- 
self into the sea, and risk my life to save 
another, I am a deliverer. But is Christ 
no more 1 Did he but risk his life ? The 
very essence of Christ's deliverance is the 
.'ubstitutien of Himself for us, his life for 


ours. He did not come to risk his life ; he 
came to die ! He did not redeem us by a 
little loss, a little sacrifice, a little labour, a 
little suffering, " He redeemed us to God 
by his blood," (Rev. v. 9) ; " the precious 
blood of Christ," (1 Pet. i. 18). He gave 
all he had, even his life, for us. This 
is the kind of deliverance that awakens 
the happy song, "To him that loved us, 
and washed us from our sins in his own 

The tendency of the world's religion just 
now is, to reject the blood ; and to glory in a 
gospel which needs no sacrifice, no " Lamb 
slain." Thus, they go " in the way of 
Cain," (Jude 11). Cain refused the blood, 
and came to God without it. He would 
not own himself a sinner, condemned to 
die, and needing the death of another to 
save him. This was man's open rejection 
of God's own way of life. Foremost in this 
rejection of, what is profanely called by some 
scoffers, "\he religion of the shambles." we 


see the first murderer ; and lie who would 
not defile his altar with the blood of as. 
lamb, pollutes the earth with his brother's, 

The heathen altars have been red with: 
blood ; and to this day they are the same. 
But these worshippers know not what they 
mean, in bringing that blood. It is asso- 
ciated only with vengeance in their minds ; 
and they shed it, to appease the vengeance 
of their gods. But this is no recognition 
either of the love or the righteousness of 
God. " Fury is not in him ;" whereas their 
altars speak only of fury. The blood which 
they bring is a denial both of righteousness^ 
and grace. 

But look at Israel's altars... There is- 

blood ; and they who bring it know the' 

God to whom they come. They bring itr 

in acknowledgment of their own guilt,. 

but also of his pardoning love. They say,. 

" I deserve death ; but let this death stand* 

for mine ; and let the love which otherwise 




could not reach me, by reason of guilt, now 
pour itself out on me." 

Inquiring soul ! Beware of Cain's error 
on the one hand, in coming to God without 
blood ; and beware of the heathen error on 
the other, in mistaking the meaning of the 
blood. Understand God's mind and mean- 
ing, in "the precious blood" of his Son. 
Believe his testimony concerning it ; so 
shall thy conscience be pacified, and thy 
soul find rest. 

It is into Christ's death that we are 
baptized (Rom. vi. 3), and hence the cross, 
which was the instrument of that death, is 
that in which we " glory," (Gal. vi. 4). The 
cross is to us the payment of the sinner's 
penalty, the extinction of the debt, and the 
tearing up of the bond or hand-writing 
which was against us. And as the cross is 
the payment, so the resurrection is. God's 
receipt in full, for the whole sum, signed 
with his own hand. Our faith is not the 
completion of the payment, but the simple 


recognition on our part of the payment 
made by the Son of God. By this recogni- 
tion, we become so one with Hirn who died 
and rose, that we are henceforth reckoned 
to be the parties who have paid the penalty, 
and treated as if it were we ourselves who 
had died. Thus are we "justified from the 
sin,"* and then made partakers of the 
righteousness of him, who was not only 
delivered for our offences, but who rose 
again for our justification. 

* Rom. vL 7. Our translation is, " He that is dead 
is freed from sin." But the word "freed" is literally 
"justified." The passage should run thus, " He that 
dies (and so exhausts the law's penalty and claim) is 
justified (or has been justified) from the sin." In the 
terms of old Scottish jurisprudence, "justify" means 
to suffer the penalty of the law, so that a justified 
man would mean, one who had completed Ids term of 
punishment, and so was free. 



Dent, xviii. 15-19. 

Dan. ix. 26. 

Rom. viii. 34. 

Isa. ix. 6. 

Zech. ix. 9. 

Phil. ii. 7, 8. 

... liii. 8. 

John i. 14. 

1 Tim. iii 16. 

Jer. xxiii. 6. 

Luke i . 18. 

Heb. xiii. 12. 

Life comes to us through death ; and thus 
grace abounds towards us in righteousness. 
This we have seen in a general way. But 
we have something more to learn concern- 
ing him who lived and died as the sinner's 
substitute. The more that we know of his 
person and his work, the more shall we be 
satisfied, in heart and conscience, with the 
provision which God has made for our great 
i Our sin-bearer is the Son of God, the 


eternal Son of the Father. Of him it is 
written, " In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, and the 
Word was God," (John i. 1). He is "the 
brightness of his giory, and the express 
image of his person," (Heb. L 3). He is 
" in the Father, and the Father in him " 
(John xiv. 11); "the Father dwelleth in 
him" (John xiv. 9, 10); "he that hath 
seen him hath seen the Father;" and "he 
that heareth him, heareth him that sent 
him" He is "the Word made flesh" 
(John i. 14) ; " God manifest in flesh " 
(1 Tim. iii. 16) ; " Jesus the Christ, who 
has come in the flesh" (1 John iv. 2, 3). 
His name is " Immanuel," God with us (Isa. 
vii. 14 ; Matt. i. 23) ; Jesus, the "Saviour" 
(Matt. i. 21) ; "Christ," the anointed One, 
filled with the Spirit without measure (John 
iii. 34) ; " the only-begotten of the Father, 
full of grace and truth " (John i. 14). 

He came preaching the gospel of the 
kingdom, that is, the good news about the 



kingdom (Mark i. 14) ; teaching the mul- 
titudes that gathered round him (Mark 
iv. 1) ; healing the sick, opening the eyes 
of the blind, and raising the dead (Matt., 
iv. 23, 24?) ; " receiving sinners, and eating 
with them" (Luke xv. 2). "He came to 
seek and save that which was lost " (Luke 
xix. 10) ; he went about speaking words of 
grace such as never man spake, saying, 
" I am the Way, and the Truth, and the 
Life : no man cometh unto the Father, 
but by me" (John xiv. 6). He went out 
and in as THE Saviouk ; and in his whole 
life we see him as the Shepherd seeking 
his lost sheep, as the woman her lost piece 
of silver, and as the father looking out for 
his lost son. He is " mighty to save" (Isa. 
lxiii. 1) ; he is " able to save to the utter- 
most " (Heb. vii. 25) ; he came to be " the 
Saviour of the world" (1 John iv. 14). 

In all these things thus written con- 
cerning Jesus, there are good news for the 
ginner ; such as should draw him, in simple 


confidence, to God ; making him feel that 
his case has really been taken up in ear- 
nest by God ; and that God's thoughts 
toward him are thoughts, not of anger, 
but of peace and grace. Heaven has come 
down to earth ! There is goodwill toward 
man. He is not to be handed over to his 
great enemy. God has taken his side, and 
stepped in between him and Satan. This 
world is not to be burned up, nor its 
dwellers made eternal exiles from God ! 
The darkness is passing away, and the true 
light is shining! 

Yet it is not the person of Christ, nor 
his birth, nor his life, that can suffice. 
That the Son of God took a true but sin- 
less humanity of the very substance of the 
virgin ; becoming bone of our bone, and 
flesh of our flesh ; being in very deed 
the woman's seed ; that he dwelt among 
us for a lifetime, is but the beginning of 
the good news ; the Alpha, but not the 
Omega. This was shewn to Israel, and to 


us also, in the temple veil. That veil was 
the type of his flesh (Heb. x. 20) ; and, so 
long as that curtain remained whole, there 
was no entrance into the near presence of 
God. The worshipper was not indeed frowned 
upon ; but he had to stand afar off. The 
veil said to the sinner, Godhead is within ; 
but it also said, You cannot enter till some- 
thing more has been done. The Holy- 
Ghost, by it, signified that the way into the 
Holiest was not yet open. The rending of 
the veil ; that is, the crucifixion of " the 
"Word made flesh," opened the way com- 

Hence it is that the Holy Spirit sums 
up the good news in one or two special 
points. They are these : Christ was cruci- 
fied. Christ died. Christ was buried. 
Christ rose again from the dead. Christ 
went up on high. Christ sits at God's 
right hand, our " Advocate with the Father" 
(1 John ii. 1), " ever living to make inter- 
cession for us" (Rom. viii. 24, Heb. vii. 25). 


These are the great facts which contain 
the good news. They are few and they 
are plain ; so that a child may remember 
and understand them. They are the cas- 
kets which contain the heavenly gems. 
They are the cups which hold the living 
water for the thirsty soul ; the golden 
baskets in which God has placed the bread 
of life, the true bread which came down 
from heaven, of which if a man eat he shall 
never die. They are the volumes in whose 
brief but blessed pages are written the re- 
cords of God's mighty mercy ; records so 
simple that even the "fool" may read and 
comprehend them ; so true and sure that 
all the wisdom of the world, and all the 
wiles of hell, cannot shake their certainty. 

The knowledge of these is salvation. 
On them we rest our confidence ; for they 
are the revelation of the name of God ; 
and it is written, " They that know thy 
name will put their trust in thee" (Ps. 
ix. 10). 


Let us listen to apostolic preaching, and 
see how these' facts form the heads of 
primitive sermons ; sermons such as Peter's 
at Jerusalem, or Paul's at Corinth and 
Antioch. Peter's sermon at Jerusalem 
(Acts ii. 29-36) was that Jesus of Nazareth, 
who was crucified, had been raised from 
the dead and exalted to the throne of God, 
being made both Lord and Christ. This 
the apostle declared to be "good news." 
Paul's sermon at Antioch was, in substance 
the same, — a statement of the facts re- 
garding the death and resurrection of 
Jesus ; and the application of that sermon 
was in these words, "Be it known unto 
you, men and brethren, that through this 
man is preached unto you the forgiveness 
of sins : and by him all that believe are 
justified," (Acts xiii. 38, 39). His sermon 
at Corinth was very similar. He gives us 
the following sketch of it : " Moreover, 
brethren, I declare unto you the gospel 
which I preached unto you, which also ye 


have received, and wherein ye stand ; by 
which also ye are saved, if ye keep in 
memory what I preached unto you. For I 
delivered unto you first of all that which 
I also received, how that Christ died for 
our sins according to the Scriptures ; and 
that he was buried, and that he rose 
again the third day according to the Scrip- 
tures," (1 Cor. xv. 1-4.) Then he adds : 


(verse 11.) 

Such was apostolic preaching. Such was 
Paul's gospel. It narrated a few facts re- 
specting Christ ; adding the evidence of 
their truth and certainty, that all who 
heard might believe and be saved. In 
these facts the free love of God to sinners 
is announced ; and the great salvation is 
revealed. It is this gospel which is " the 
power of God unto salvation to every one 
that believeth. For therein is the right- 
eousness of God revealed from faith to 
faith," (Rom. i. 16, 17). Its burden was 


not, " Do this or do that ; labour and pray, 
and use the means ;" — that is l%w, not gos- 
pel : — but Christ has done all ! He did 
it all when he was " delivered for our 
offences, and raised again for our justifica- 
tion," (Rom. iv. 25.) He did it all when 
he " made peace by the blood of his cross," 
(Col. i. 20). " It is finished," (John xix. 
30). His doing is so complete that it has 
left nothing for us to do. We have but to 
enter into the joy of knowing that all is 
done ! " This is the record, that God hath 
given to us eternal life ; and this life is in 
his Son," (Uohnv. 11). 

But let us gather together some of the 
"true sayings of God" concerning Christ 
and his work. In these we shall find the 
divine interpretation of the facts above 
referred to. We shall see the meaning 
which the Holy Spirit attaches to these, 
and so our faith shall not " stand in the 
wisdom of men, but in the power of God," 
(1 Cor. ii 5). It was in this way that the 


Lord himself, ere ha left the earth, removed 
the unbelief of the doubters around him. 
He reminded them of the written word, 
" Thus it is written, and thus it behoved 
(the) Christ to suffer and to rise from the 
dead the third day ; and that repentance 
and remission of sins should be preached in 
his name, among all nations, beginning at 
Jerusalem," (Luke xxiv. 46). 

Hear, then, the word of the Lord ! For 
heaven and earth shall pass away, but 
these words shall not pass away. " Who 
was delivered for our offences, and raised 
again for our justification," (Rom. iv. 25). 
" God hath not appointed us to wrath, but 
to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who died for us, that, whether we 
wake or sleep, we should live together with 
him," (1 Thess. v. 9, 10). " By the which 
will we are sanctified, through the offer- 
ing of the body of Jesus Christ once 
for all," (Heb. x. 10). " In due time Christ 
died for the ungodly," (Rom. v. 6). " It is 


Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen 
again, who is even at the right hand of 
God, who also maketh intercession for us," 
(Rom viii. 34). " Who gave himself for 
our sins," (Gal. i. 4). "Christ hath redeemed 
us from the curse of the law, being made 
a curse for us," (Gal. iii. 13). "In whom 
we have redemption through his blood, the 
forgiveness of sins, according to the riches 
of his grace," (Eph. i. 7). " He humbled 
himself and became obedient unto death, 
even the death of the cross," (Phil. ii. 8). 
" Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed 
of David, was raised from the dead, accord- 
ing to my gospel," (2 Tim. ii. 8). "Who 
gave himself for us," (Titus ii. 14). " Christ 
was once offered to bear the sins of many," 
(Heb. ix. 28). " Jesus also, that he might 
sanctify the people with his own blood, suf- 
fered without the gate," (Heb. xiii. 12). 
" Christ also suffered for us/' (1 Pet. ii. 21). 
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own 
body on the tree?/' (1 Pet. ii. 24). "Christ 


also hath once suffered for sins, the just 
for the unjust," (1 Pet. iii. 18). " Christ 
hath suffered for us in the flesh," (1 Pet. 
iv. 1). " He is the propitiation for our 
sins," (1 John ii. 2). " Unto him that loved 
us, and washed us from our sins in his own 
blood" (Rev. i. 5). " I am He that liveth 
and was dead, and behold I am alive for 
evermore" (Rev. i. 18). " Thou wast slain, 
and hast redeemed us to God by thy 
blood," (Rev. v. 9). 

These are all divine truths written in 
divine words. These sayings are faithful 
and true ; they come from Him that cannot 
lie ; and they are as true, in these last days, 
as they were eighteen hundred years ago ; 
for " the word of our God shall stand for 
ever," (Isa. xl. 8 ; 1 Pet. i. 25). In them we 
find the authentic exposition of the facts 
which the apostles preached ; and in that 
we learn the glad tidings concerning the 
way in which salvation from a righteous 
God has come to unrighteous man. Jesus 


died ! That is the paying of the debt, 
the endurance of the penalty ; the death for 
death! He was buried. That is the 
proof that his death was a true death, 
needing a tomb as we do. He rose again. 
This is God's declaration that he, the 
righteous Judge, is satisfied with the pay- 
ment, no less than with him who made it. 

Could there be better, gladder news to 
the sinner than these ? What more can h§ 
ask to satisfy him, than that which has so 
fully satisfied the holy Lord God of earth 
and heaven ? If this will not avail, then 
he can expect no more. If this is not 
enough, then Christ has died in vain. 

God has thus " brought near his right- 
eousness," (Isa xlvi. 13). We do not need 
to go up to heaven for it ; that would im- 
ply that Christ had never come down. 
Nor do we need to go down to the depths 
of the earth for it ; that would say that 
Christ had never been buried and never 
risen. It is near. It is as near as is the 


word concerning it, which enters into our 
ears (Rom. x. 10). We do not need to 
exert ourselves to bring it near ; nor to do 
any thing to attract it towards us. It is 
already so near, so very near, that we can- 
not bring it closer. If we try to get up 
warm feelings and good dispositions in 
order to remove some fancied remainder of 
distance, we shall fail ; not simply because 
these actings of ours cannot do what we 
are trying to do, but because there is no 
need of any such effort. The thing is done 
already. God has brought his righteous- 
ness nigh to the sinner. The office of faith 
is not, to work, but to cease working ; not 
to do any thing, but to own that all is done; 
not to bring near the righteousness, but to 
rejoice in it as already near. This is " the 





Psa. xxxvi. 5-9. Ezek. xxxiv. 16. John iii. 16. 

. . lxxxvi 5-15. Micah vii. 18. 2 Cor. v. 18-19. 

Isa. xii. 1-3. Luke ii. 9-14. 1 Tim. i. 11-16. 

How shall I come before God, and stand 
in his presence, with happy confidence on 
my part, and gracious acceptance on his ? 

This is the sinner's question ; and he asks 
it because he knows that there is guilt be- 
tween him and God. No doubt this wa8 
Adam's question when he stitched his fig- 
leaves together for a covering. Bat he was 
soon made to feel that the fig-leaves would 
not do. He must be wholly covered, not 
in part only ; and that by something which 
even God's eye cannot see through. As God 


comes near, the uselessness of his fig-leaves 
is felt, and he rushes into the thick foliage 
of Paradise to hide from the Divine eye. 
The Lord approaches the trembling man, 
and makes him feel that this hiding-place 
will not do. Then he begins to tell him 
what will do. He announces a better cover- 
ing and a better hiding-place. He reveals 
himself as the God of grace, the God who 
hates sin, yet who takes the sinner's side 
against the sinner's enemy, — the old serpent. 
And all this through the seed of the woman 
— "the man" who is the true "hiding-place," 
(Isa. xxxii. 2). Adam can now leave his 
thicket safely ; and feel that, in this revealed 
grace, he can," stand" (Rom. v. 2) before God 
without fear or shame. He has heard the 
good news ; and brief as they are, they have 
restored his confidence and removed his 

Let us hear the good news, and let .us 
hear them as Adam did, — from the lips of 
God himself. For that which is revealed 


for our belief is set before us on God's 
authority, not on man's. We are not only 
to believe tlie truth, but we are to believe 
it because God has spoken it Faith must 
have a divine foundation. 

We gather together a few of these divine 
announcements ; asking the anxious soul 
to study them as divine. Nor let him say 
that he knows them already ; but let him 
accept our invitation, to traverse, along with 
us, the field of gospel statement. It is of 
God himself that we must learn ; and it is 
only by listening to the very words of God 
that we shall arrive at the true knowledge 
of what the gospel is. His own words are 
the truest, the simplest, and the best. 
They are not only the likeliest to meet our 
case ; but they are the words which he has 
promised to honour and to bless. ' 

Let us hear, then, the words of God as 
to his own "grace," or "free-love," or 
" mercy." " The Lord passed by before 
him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord 


God, merciful and gracious, long-suffer- 
ing, and abundant in goodness and truth, 
keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving 
iniquity, and transgression, and sin," 
(Exod xxxiv. G, 7). "The Lord is long- 
suffering and of great mercy" (Num. xiv. 
18). "His mercies are great" (2 Sam. 
xxiv. 14). " The Lord your God is gracious 
and merciful" (2 Chron. xxx. 9). " Thou 
art a God ready to pardon, gracious and 
merciful" (Neh. ix. 17). "His mercy en- 
durethfor evev" (1 Chron. xvi. 34). " Thou, 
Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and 
plenteous in mercy unto all them that 
call upon thee," (Psa. lxxxvi. 5) ; " thou art 
a God full of compassion, and gracious, 
long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy 
and truth," (Psa. lxxxvi. 15); " thy mercy 
is great unto the heavens," (Psa. lvii. 10) ; 
" thy mercy is great above the heavens," 
(Psa. cviii. 4) ; " his tender mercies are 
over all his works," (Psa. cxlv. 9) ; " Who 
is a God like unto thee, that pardonetk 


iniquity and passeth by the transgression 
of the remnant of his heritage ; he re- 
taineth not his anger for ever, because he 
delighteth in mercy" (Mic. vii. 18) ; "I 
will love them freely," (Hos. xiv. 4) ; " God 
so loved the world,- that he gave his only 
begotten Son, (John iii. 16) ; " God com- 
mendeth his love towards us," (Rom. v. 8) ; 
" God, who is rich in mercy, for the great 
love wherewith he hath loved us, even 
when we were dead in sins," (Eph. ii. 4) ; 
"the kindness and love of God our Saviour 
toward man," (Titus iii. 4) ; " according to 
his mercy he saved us," (Titus iii. 5) ; " in 
this was manifested the love of God towards 
us, because that God sent his only begotten 
Son into the world, that we might live 
through him ; herein is love, not that we 
loved God, but that he loved us, and sent 
his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," 
(1 John iv. 9, 10) ; " the only begotten of 
the Father, full of grace and truth," (John 
L 14) ; " grace and truth . came by Jesus 


Christ," (John i. 17); "the word of his 
grace" (Acts xiv. 3) ; " the gospel of the 
grace of God," (Acts xx. 24.). 

Such are a few of the words of Him who 
cannot lie, concerning his own free love. 
These sayings are faithful and true ; and 
though perhaps we may but little have 
owned them as such, or given heed to the 
blessed news which they embody, yet they 
are all fitted to speak peace to the soul 
even of the most troubled and heavy laden. 
Each of these words of grace is like a star 
sparkling in the round, blue sky above us ; 
or like a well of water pouring out its 
freshness amid desert rocks and sands. 
Blessed are they who know these joyful 
sounds, (Psa. lxxxix. 15). 

Let no one say, — " We know all these 
passages ; of what use is it to read and re- 
read words so familiar V Much everf way. 
Chiefly because it is in such declarations 
regarding the riches of God's free love that 
the gospel is wrapped up ; and it is out of 


these that the Holy Spirit ministers light 
and peace to us. Such are the words which 
he delights to honour as his messengers of 
joy to the soul. Hear then, in these, the 
voice of the Spirit's love, as well as the 
love of the Father and the Son ! If you 
find no peace coming out of them to you, 
as you read them the first time, read them 
again. If you find nothing the second 
time, read them once more. If you find 
nothing the hundredth or the thousandth 
time, study them yet again. " The word 
of God is quick and poiverful" (Heb. iv. 
12) ; his sayings are the " lively oracles," 
(Acts vii. 38) ; his word " liueth and abid- 
eth for ever," (1 Peter i. 23) ; it is "like a 
fire, and like a hammer that breaketh the 
rock in pieces," (Jer. xxiii. 29). The gospel 
is "the power of God," (Rom. i. 16) ; and 
it is by " manifestation of the truth," that 
we commend ourselves to every man's con- 
science in the sight of God, (2 Cor. iv. 2). 
There are no words like those of God, in 


heaven or in earth. Hence it is that we 
are to study that " which is written ;" for 
He himself wrote it ; and he wrote it foi 
you. Do not thick it needless to read these 
passages again and again. They will blaze 
up at last ; and light up that dark soul of 
yours with the very joy of heaven. 

You have sometimes looked up to the 
sky at twilight, searching for a star which 
you expected to find in its wonted place. 
You did not see it at first, but you knew it 
was there, and that its light was undi- 
minished. So, instead of closing your eye 
or turning away to some other object, you 
continued to gaze more and more intently 
on the spot where you knew it was. Slowly 
and faintly the star seemed to come out in 
the sky, as you gazed ; and your persever- 
ing search ended in the discovery of the 
long-sought gem. 

Just so is it with those passages which 
speak to you of the free love of God. You 
say, I have looked into them, but they 


contain nothing for me. Do not turn 
away from them, as if you knew them too 
well already, yet could find nothing in 
them. You have not seen them yet. 
There are wonders beyond all price hidden 
in each. Take them up again. Search 
and study them. The Holy Spirit is most 
willing to reveal to you the glory which 
they contain. It is his office, it is his 
delight, to be the sinner's teacher. He 
will not be behind you in willingness. It 
is of the utmost moment that you should 
remember this ; lest you should grieve 
and repel him by your distrust. Never 
lose sight of this great truth, that the evil 
thing in you, which is the root of bitter- 
ness to the soul, is distrust of God ; dis- 
trust of the Father, who so loved the world 
as to give his Son ; distrust of the Sou, 
who came to seek and save that which 
was lost ; distrust of the Holy Ghost, 
whose tender mercies are over you, and 
whose work of love is to reveal the Christ 


of God to your souls. Besides, keep this 
in mind, that in teaching you he is hon- 
ouring his own word and glorifying Christ. 
You need not then suspect him of indiffer- 
ence toward you, or doubt his willingness 
to " enlighten the eyes of your understand- 
ing." While you are firmly persuaded that 
it is only his teaching that can be of any 
real use to you, do not grieve him by sepa- 
rating his love, in writing the Bible for 
you, from his willingness to make you un- 
derstand it. He who gave you the word 
will interpret it for you. He does not 
stand aloof from you or from his own 
word, as if he needed to be persuaded, or 
bribed by your deeds and prayers, to un- 
fold the heavenly truth to you. Trust 
him for teaching. Taste and see that he 
is good. Avail yourself at once of his love 
and power. 

Do not say I am not entitled to trust 
him till I am converted. You are to trust 
him as a sinner, not as a converted man ) 


You are to trust him as you are, not as 
you hope to be made ere long. Your con- 
version is not your warrant for trusting 
him. The great sin of an unconverted 
man is his not trusting the God that made 
him ; Father, Son, and Spirit ; and how 
can any one be so foolish, not to say wicked, 
as to ask for a warrant for forsaking sin 1 
What would you say to a thief who should 
say, I have no warrant to forsake stealing ; 
I must wait till I am made an honest man, 
then I shall give it up % And what shall I 
say to a distruster of God, who tells me 
that he has no warrant for giving up his 
distrust, for he is not entitled to trust God 
till he is converted ? One of the greatest 
things in conversion is turning from dis- 
trust to trust. If you are not entitled to 
turn at once from distrust to trust, then 
your distrust is no sin. If, however, your 
distrust of the Holy Spirit be one of your 
worst sins ; how absurd it is to say, I am 
not entitled to trust him till I am con- 


verted ! For is not that just saying, I am 
not entitled to trust him till I trust him ? 

You say that you know God to be gra- 
cious, yet, by your acting, you shew that 
you do not believe him to be so ; or, at 
least, to be so gracious as to be willing to 
shew you the meaning of his own word. 
You believe him to be so gracious as to 
give his only begotten Son ; . yet the way 
in which you treat him, as to his word 
shews that you do not believe him to be 
willing to give his Spirit to make known 
his truth. Nay, you think yourself much 
more willing to be taught than he is to 
teach ; more willing to be blest than he is 
to bless. 

You say, I must wait till God enlightens 
my mind. If God had told you that wait- 
ing is the way to light, you would be right. 
But he has nowhere told you to wait ; and 
your idea of waiting is a mere excuse for 
not trusting him immediately. If your way 
of proceeding be correct, God must have 



said boti, " Come" and " wait," " Come now, 
but do not come now," which is a contra- 
diction. When a kind rich man sends a 
message to a poor cripple to come at once 
to him and be provided for, he sends his 
carriage to convey him. He does not say, 
"Come ; but then, as you are lame, and have 
besides no means of conveyance, you must 
make all the interest you can, and use all 
the means in your power, to induce me to 
send my carriage for you." The invitation 
and the carriage go together. Much more 
is this true of God and his messages. His 
word and his Spirit go together. Not that 
the Spirit is in the word, or the power 
in the message, as some foolishly tell you. 
They are distinct things ; but they go 
together. And your mistake lies in sup- 
posing, that He who sent the one may not 
be willing to send the other. You think that 
it is He, not yourself, who creates the inter- 
val which you call " waiting ;" although this 
waiting is, in reality, a deliberate refusal to 


comply with a command of God, and a de- 
termination to do something else, which he 
has not commanded, instead ; a determina- 
tion to make the doinsr of that something 
else an excuse for not doing the very thing 
commanded ! Thus it is that you rid yourself 
of blame by pleading inability ; nay more, 
you throw the blame on God, for not being 
willing to do immediately that which he is 
most willing to do. 

God demands immediate acceptance of 
his Son, and immediate belief of his gos- 
pel. You evade this duty on the plea, 
that as you cannot accept Christ of yourself, 
you must go and ask him to enable you 
to do so. By this pretext you try to relieve 
yourself from the overwhelming sense of the 
necessity for immediate obedience. You 
soothe your conscience with the idea that you 
are doing what you can, in the mean time, 
and that so you are not guilty of unbelief, 
as before, seeing you desire to believe, and 
are doing your part in this great business ! 


It will not do. The command is, " Be- 
lieve in the Lord Jesus Christ." Nothing 
less than this is pleasing to God. And 
though it is every man's duty to pray, just as 
it is every mans duty to love God and to 
keep his statutes, yet you must not delude 
yourself with the idea that you are doing 
the right thing, when you only pray to be- 
lieve, instead of believing. The thief is 
still a thief ; though he may desire to give 
up stealing, and pray to be enabled to give 
it up ; until he actually give it up. 

The question is not as to whether prayer 
is a duty ; but whether it is a right and 
acceptable thing to pray in unbelief. Un- 
believing prayer is prayei* to an unknoivn 
God, and it cannot be your duty to pray to 
an unknown God. 

You must go to your knees, believing 
either that God is willing, or that he is not 
willing, to bless you. In the latter case, 
you cannot expect any answer or blessing 
In the former case, you are really believ- 


trig ; as it is written, " He that cometh to 
God must believe that he is, and that he is 
the rewarder of all those that diligently 
seek him," (Heb. xi. 6). In maintaining 
the duty of praying before believing, you 
cannot surely be asserting that it is your 
duty to go to God in unbelief ? You can- 
not mean to say that you ought to go to 
God, believing that he is not willing to 
bless you, in order that by so praying you 
may persuade him to make you believe 
that he is willing. Are you to persist in 
unbelief till in some miraculous way faith 
drops into you, and God compels you to be- 
lieve ? Must you go to God with unac- 
ceptable prayer, in order to induce him to 
give you the power of acceptable prayer ? 
Is this what you mean by the duty of 
praying in order to believe ? If so, it is a 
delusion and a sin. 

Understanding prayer in the scriptural 
sense, I would tell every man to pray, just 
as I would tell every man to believe. For 


prayer includes and presupposes faith. It 
assumes that the man knows something of 
the God he is going to ; and that is faith. 
"Whosoever shall call on the name 
of the Lord shall be saved," (Rom. x. 
13). But then the Apostle adds, "How 
shall they call on him in tvhom they have 
not believed?" (Rom. x. 14.) Does not this 
last verse go to -the very root of the matter 
before us ? It is every man's duty to " call 
upon the name of the Lord," (Joel ii. 32 ; 
Acts ii. 21) ; nay, it is the great sin of the 
ungodly that they do not do so, (Psa. xiv. 
4 ; Jer. x. 25). Yet says the Apostle, "How 
shall they call on him in whom they have 
not believed V 

But I do not enter further on this point 
here. It may come up again. Meanwhile, 
I would just remind you of the tidings con- 
cerning God's free love, in the free gift of 
his Son. Listen to what He himself has told 
you regarding this, and know the God who 
is asking you to call upon his name ; for if 


thou but knewest this God and his great 
gift of love, thou wouldest ask of him and 
he would give thee living water, (John iv. 
10). Remember that the gospel is not a 
list of duties to be performed, or feelings to 
be produced, or frames which we are to pray 
ourselves into, in order to make God think 
well of us, and in order to fit us for receiv- 
ing pardon. The gospel is the good news 
of the great work" done upon the cross. 
The knowledge of that finished work is 
immediate peace. 

Read again and again the wondrous words 
which I have quoted at length from His own 
book. The Bible is a living book, not a dead 
one ; a divine one, not a human one ; a 
perfect one, not an imperfect one.* Search 
it, study it, dig into it. "My son," says God, 

* "We must make a great difference between God's 
word and the word of man. A man's word is a little 
Bound which flieth into the air and soon vanisheth ; 
but the word of God is greater than heaven and earth, 
yea, it is greater than death and hell, for it is the 


our Father, receive my words ; hide my 
commandments with thee ; incline thine 
ear unto wisdom ; take fast hold of instruc- 
tion ; attend unto my wisdom and bow thine 
ear to my understanding ; keep my words 
and lay up my commandments with thee." 
Do not say these messages are only for the 
children of God ; for, as if to prevent this, 
God thus speaks to the "simple," the 
"scorners," the fools, "Turn ye at my re- 
proof;" shewing us that it is in listening to His 
words that the simple, the scorner, and the 
fool cease to be such and become sons. Do 
not revert to the old difficulty about your 
need of the Holy Spirit ; for, as if to meet 
this, God, in the above passage, adds, "Be- 
hold I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I 
will make known my words unto you," 
(Prov. i. 23). Not for one moment would 

power of God, and remaineth everlastingly. There- 
fore we ought diligently to learn God's word, and we 
must know certainly and believe that God himself 
speaketh with us." — Luthek. 


God allow you to suspect his willingness to 
accompany his word with his Spirit. 

Honour the words of God ; and honour 
him who wrote them, by trusting him for: 
interpretation and light. Do not disparage 
them by calling them "a dead letter." They 
are not dead. If you will use the figure of 
" death" in this case, use it rightly. They 
are "the savour of death unto death in 
them that perish ;" but this only shews- 
their awful vitality. As the blood of Christ 
either cleanses or condemns, so the words 
of the Spirit either kill or make alive. 
" The words that I speak unto you, they are- 
Spirit, and they are life," (John vi. 63). 

Again I say to you, honour the words of 
God. Make much of them. Them that 
honour me I will honour, is as true o£ 
Scripture as it is of the God of Scripture.. 
Peace, light, comfort, life, salvation, holi- 
ness, are wrapt up in them. " Thy word, 
bath quickened me," (Psa. cxix. 50). " I 
will never forget thy precepts :: for with 


them thou hast quickened me," (Psalm 
cxix. 93 

It is through " belief or the truth 
that God hath from the beginning chosen 
us to salvation," (2 Thess. ii. 13). It is 
"with the word of truth" that he begets 
us, (Jas. i. 18) ; and all this is in per- 
fect harmony with the great truth of man's 
total helplessness and his need of the Al- 
mighty Spirit. 


(Rom. x. 17). "Hear, and your soul shall 
live," (Isa. Iv. 3). 



Gen. xt. 6. 

Matt. viii. 8-13. 

Acts x. 43. 

Isa. xxvi. 4. 

Mark ii. 5. 

1 Tim. i. 16. 

Hab. ii. 4. 

John ri. 29-69. 

1 John v. 10. 

It is the Holy Spirit alone that can draw 
us to the cross and fasten us to the Saviour. 
He who thinks he can do without the Spirit, 
has yet to learn his own sinfulness and 
helplessness. The gospel would be no good 
news to the dead in sin, if it did not tell of 
the love and power of the divine Spirit, as 
explicitly as it announces the love and power 
of the divine Substitute. 

But, while keeping this in mind, we may 
try to learn from Scripture what is written 
concerning the bond which connects us in- 


dividually with the cross of Christ ; making 
lis thereby partakers of the pardon and the 
life which that cross reveals. 

Thus then it is written, "By grace are 
ye saved, through faith; and that not 
of yourselves : it is the gift of God," (Eph. 
ii. 8). 

Faith then is the link, the one link, be- 
tween the sinner and the Sinbearer. It is 
not faith, as a work or exercise of our 
minds, which must be properly performed 
in order to qualify or fit us for pardon. It 
is not faith, as a religious duty, which must 
be gone through according to certain rules, 
in order to induce Christ to give us the 
benefits of his work. It is faith, simply as 
a receiver of the divine record concerning 
the Son of God. It is not faith considered 
as the source of holiness, as containing in 
itself the seed of all spiritual excellence 
and good works ; it is faith alone, recog- 
nising simply tb 3 completeness of the great 
sacrifice for sin and the trueness of the 


Father's testimony to that completeness ; 
as Paul writes to the Thessalonians, u our 
testimony among you was believed" (2 
Thess. i. 10). It is not faith as a piece of 
money or a thing of merit ; but faith tak- 
ing God at his word, and giving him credit 
for speaking the honest truth, when he de- 
clares that " Christ died for the ungodly," 
(Rom. v. 6), and that the life which that 
death contains for sinners, is to be had 
" without money, and without price," (Isa. 
Iv. 1). 

But let us learn the things concerning 
this faith, from the lips of God himself, 
I lay great stress on this in dealing with 
inquirers. For the more that we can fix 
the sinner's eye and conscience upon God's 
own words, the more likely shall we be to 
lead him aright, and to secure the quicken- 
ing presence of that Almighty Spirit who 
alone can give sight to the blind. One great 
difficulty which the inquirer finds in such 

cases, is that of unlearning much of his 



past experience and teaching. Hence the 
importance ,of studying the divine word3 
themselves, by which the sinner is made 
wise unto salvation. For they both un- 
teach the false and imperfect, and teach 
the true and the perfect. 

Let us mark how frequently and strongly 
God has spoken respecting "faith" and 
" believing." " Without faith it is impos- 
sible to please God/' (Heb. xi. 6). " Therein 
is the righteousness of God revealed from 
faith to faith: as it is written, The just 
shall live by faith;' (Rom. i. 17). " The 
righteousness of God which is by faith of 
Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them 
that believe" (Rom. iii. 22). "Whom God 
hath set forth to be a propitiation through 
faith in his blood .... to declare his 
righteousness : that he might be just, and 
the justifier of him which believeth in 
Jesus," (Rom. iii. 23-26). "He that be- 
lieveth shall be saved," (Mark xvi. 16). 
" As many as received him, to them gave 


he power to become the sons of God, even 
to them that believe on his name," (John i. 
12). "As Moses lifted up the serpent in 
the wilderness, even so must the Son of 
man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth 
in him should not perish but have eternal 
life ; for God so loved the world, that he 
gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever 
believeth in him should not perish, but have 
everlasting life. He that believeth on him 
is not condemned : but he that believeth 
not is condemned already, because he hath 
not believed in the name of the only be- 
gotten Son of God," (John iii. 14-18). 
" He that believeth on the Son hath ever- 
lasting life, and he that believeth not the 
Son shall not see life," (John iii. 36). " He 
that heareth my word, and believeth on him 
that sent me, hath everlasting life," (John 
v. 24). " This is the work of God, that ye 
believe on him whom he hath sent," (John 
vi. 29). "He that believeth on me shall 
never thirst," (John vi. 35). " This is the 


will of him that sent me, that every one 
which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, 
may have everlasting life," (John vi. 40). 
' He that believeth on me, though he were 
dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever liv- 
eth and believeth in me shall never die," 
(John xi. 25, 26). "I am come a light into 
the world, that whosoever believeth on me 
should not abide in darkness," (John xii. 
46). "These are written that ye might 
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of 
God, and that believing, ye might have 
life through his name," (John xx. 31). 
" By him all that believe are justified from 
all things," (Acts xiii. 39). " Believe on the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," 
(Acts xvi. 31). " To him gave all the pro- 
phets witness, that through his name who- 
soever believeth in him shall receive remis- 
sion of sins," (Acts x. 43). " To him that 
worketh not, but believeth on him that jus- 
tifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for 
righteousness," (Rom. iv. 5). "Christ is 


the 3nd of the law for righteousness to every 
one that believeth" (Rom. x. 4). " If thou 
shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, 
and shalt believe in thine heart that God 
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt 
be saved," (Rom. x. 9). " It pleased God, 
by the foolishness of preaching, to save 
them that believe" (1 Cor. i. 21). " This 
is his commandment, that ye believe on 
him whom he hath sent," (1 John iii. 23). 
"We have known and believed the love 
that God hath to us," (1 John iv. 16). 
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the 
Christ, is born of God," (I John v. 1). " He 
that believeth on the Son of God hath the 
witness in himself; he that believeth not 
God hath made him a bar, because he be- 
lieveth not the record that God gave of his 
Son," (1 John v. 10). " He that believeth 
not shall be damned," (Mark xvi. 16). 

These are some of the many texts which 
teach us what the link is between the sin- 
uer and the great salvation. They shew 


that it is our belief of God's testimoDy, 
concerning his own free love, and the work 1 
of his Son, that makes us partakers of the 
blessings which that testimony reveals. 
They do not indeed ascribe any meritori- 
ous or saving virtue to our act of faith. 
They shew us that it is the object of faith, 
— the person, or thing, or truth of which 
faith lays hold, — that is the soul's peace 
and consolation. But still they announce 
most solemnly the necessity of believing, 
and the greatness of the sin of unbelief. 
In them God demands the immediate faith 
of all who hear his testimony. Yet he 
gives no countenance to the self-righteous- 
ness of those who are trying to perform the 
act of faith, in order to qualify themselves 
for the favour of God ; whose religion con- 
sists in performing acts of faith of a certain 
kind ; whose comfort arises from thinking 
of these well-performed acts ; and whose 
assurance comes from the summing up of 
these at certain seasons, and dwelling 


upon the superior quality of many of 

In some places the word trust occurs 
where perhaps we might have expected 
faith. But the reason of this is plain ; the 
testimony which faith receives, is testimony 
to a person and his good will, in which case, 
belief of the testimony and confidence in 
the person are things inseparable. Our re- 
ception of God's testimony is confidence in 
God himself, and in Jesus Christ his Son. 
Hence it is that Scripture speaks of "trust" 
or "confidence" as that which saves us,* as 
if it would say to the sinner, " Such is the 
gracious character of God, that you have 
only to put your case into his hands, how- 
ever bad it be, and entrust your soul to his 
keeping, and you shall be saved." 

In some places we are said to be saved 
by the knowledge of God or of Christ ; that 

* See very many of the Psalms; — ii. 12; xiii. 5; 
xl. 4 ; lii. 8 ; also, Prov. xxix. 25; Isa. xii. 2; 1 Tim, 
iv, 10 ; Eph. i. 12. 


is by simply knowing God as he has made 
himself known to us in Jesus Christ. (Isa. 
liii. 11 ; 1 Tim. ii. 4 ; 2 Pet. ii. 20.) Thus 
Jesus spoke, " This is life eternal, that they 
might know thee, the only wise God, and 
Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," (John 
xvii. 3). And as if to make simplicity more 
simple, the Apostle, in speaking of the facts 
of Christ's death, and burial, and resurrec- 
tion, says, " By which ye are saved, if ye 
keep in memory what I preached unto you," 
(1 Cor. xv. 1, 2).* 

Thus God connects salvation with "be- 
lieving," "trusting," "knowing," "remem- 
bering." Yet the salvation is not in our 
act of believing, trusting, knowing, or re- 

* As a good memory means the correct remembrance 
of the very things that have occurred ; so the essence 
of a right faith is a belief of the right thing. And as 
bad memory is refreshed or corrected by presenting 
again and again the objects to be remembered, so a 
wrong faith (or unbelief) requires to have the full 
testimony of God to be presented to the soul. 


membering ; it is in the thing or person 
believed on, trusted, known, remembered. 
Nor is salvation given as a reward for 
believing and knowing. The things be- 
lieved and known are our salvation. Nor 
are we saved or comforted by thinking 
about our act of believing and ascertain- 
ing that it possesses all the proper in- 
gredients and qualities which would induce 
God to approve of it, and of us because 
of it. This would be making faith a meri- 
torious, or, at least, a qualifying work ; and 
then grace would be no more grace. It 
would really be making our faith a part of 
Christ's work, — the finishing stroke put to 
the great undertaking of the Son of God, 
which, otherwise, would have been incom- 
plete, or, at least, unsuitable for the sinner, 
as a sinner. To the man that makes his 
faith and his trust his rest, and tries to 
pacify his conscience by getting up evidence 
of their solidity and excellence, we say, 
miserable comforters are they all ! I get 


light by using my eyes ; not by thinking 
about my use of them, nor by a scientific 
analysis of their component parts. So I 
get peace by, and in believing; not by 
thinking about my faith, or trying to prove 
to myself how well I have performed the 
believing act. We might as well extract 
water from the desert-sands as peace from 
our own act of faith. Believing in the Lord 
Jesus Christ will do everything for us ; be- 
lieving in our own faith, or trusting in our 
own trust, will do nothing. 

Thus faith is the bond between us and 
the Son of God ; and it is so, not because 
of anything in itself, but because it is only 
through the medium of truth, as known 
and believed, that the soul can get hold of 
things or persons.' Faith is nothing, save 
as it lays hold of Christ ; and it does so by 
laying hold of the truth or testimon}^ con- 
cerning him. "Faith cometh by hearing, 
and hearing by the word of God," says the 
apostle. "Ye shall knowtfte truth" says 


the Lord, " and the truth shall make you 
free," (John viii. 32) ; and again, " because 
I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. . . 
And if I say the truth, why do ye not be- 
lieve me V (John viii. 45, 46). We have 
also such expressions as these, " Those that 
know the truth" (1 Tim. iv. 3) ; "those that 
obey not the truth" (Rom. ii. 8) ; " the 
truth as it is in Jesus," (Eph. iv. 21) ; " be- 
lief of the truth" (2 Thess. ii. 13) ; " ac- 
knowledging of the truth," (2 Tim. ii. 25) ; 
"the way of truth" (2 Pet. ii. 2) ; " we are 
of the truth" ( 1 John iii. 19 ; " destitute 
of the truth" ( 1 Tim. vi. 5) ; " sanctify 
them through thy truth" (John xvii. 11) ; 
" I speak forth the words of truth" (Acts 
xxvi. 25) ; " the Spirit of truth will guide 
you into all truth," (John xvi. 13). Most 
memorable, in connection with this subject, 
are the Lord's warnings in the parable of 
the sower, specially the following ; — " The 
seed is the word of God. Those by the 
wayside are they that hear : then cometh 


the deiil, and taketh away the word out of 
their hearts, lest they should believe and 
be saved," (Luke viii. 11, 12). The words, 
too, of the beloved disciple are no less so ; 
— " He that saw it bare record, and his re- 
cord is true ; and he knoiveth that he saith 
true, THAT YE might believe," (John xix. 
35) ; and, again, " These are written, THAT 
YE MIGHT BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, 
the Son of God ; and that believing ye 
might have life through his name," (John 
xx. 31).* 

This truth regarding; Christ and his sacri- 
ficial work, the natural man hates, because 
he hates Christ himself. " They hated ME," 
says the Lord, (John xv. 25) ; nay, more, 
they hated me "without a cause," (Psa. 

* In this matter there are (as in most Bible state- 
ments) two sides, — both to be held fast, — belief in a 
person, and belief of a truth. The former, carried to 
an exclusive excess, lands us in mysticism; the 
latter, carried to a like extreme, ends in rationalism. 
We must realise both the person and the truth. 


lxix. 4). It is not error that man hates, 
but truth ; and hence the necessity for the 
• Holy Spirit's work to remove that hatred, 
— to make the sinner even so much as 
willing to know the truth or the True One. 
Yet there is no backwardness on the part 
of God to give 'that Spirit ;- -and the first 
dawnings of inquiry and anxiety shew that 
something beyond " flesh and blood " is at 
work in the souL 

But though it needs the power of the 
divine Spirit to make us believing men ; 
this is not because faith is a mysteri- 
ous thing, a great exercise or effort of 
soul, which must be very accurately gone 
through in order to make it acceptable ; 
but because of our dislike to the truth be- 
lieved, and our enmity to the Being in 
whom we are asked to confide. Believing 
is the simplest of all mental processes ; 
yet not the less is the power of God needed. 
Let not the inquirer mystify or magnify 

faith in order to give it merit or import- 



ance in itself, so that by its superior 
texture or quality it may justify Mm ; yet 
never, on the other hand, let him try to 
simplify it for the purpose of making the 
Spirit's work unnecessary. The more sim- 
ple that he sees it to be, the more will he 
see his own guilt, in so deliberately refusing 
to believe, and his need of the divine 
Helper to overcome the fearful opposition 
of the natural heart to the simple recep- 
tion of the truth. The difficulty of believ- 
ing has its real root in pure self-righteous- 
ness ; and the struggles to believe, the 
endeavours to trust, of which men speak, 
are the indications of this self-righteous- 
ness. So far are these spiritual exercises 
from being tokens for good, they are often 
mere expressions of spiritual pride, — evi- 
dences of the desperate strength of self- 
righteousness ; the very earnestness of the 
struggle shewing the intensity of the self- 
righteousness. It is worse than" vain, then, 
to try and comfort an anxious soul by 


pointing to these exercises or efforts as 
proofs of existing faith. They are proofs 
either of ignorance or of unbelief.— -proofs 
of the sinner's determination to do any- 
thing rather than believe that all is done. 
Doubts are not the best evidence of faith ; 
and attempts at performing this great thing 
called faith are mere proofs of blindness to 
the finished propitiation of the Son of God. 
To do some great thing called faith, in 
order to win God's favour, the sinner has 
no objection; nay, it is just what he wants, 
for it gives him the opportunity of work- 
ing for his salvation. But he rejects the 
idea of taking his stand upon a work 
already done, and so ceasing to exercise 
his soul in order to effect a reconciliation, 
for which all that is needed was accom- 
plished eighteen hundred years ago, upon 
the cross of Him who " was made sin for 
us, though he knew no sin ; that we might 
be mad 3 the righteousness of God in him," 
(2 Cor. v. 21). 




. xcr. 


Amos v. 4. 


iv. 7-13. 



John siL 36. 



You are in earnest now ; but I fear you 
are making your earnestness your Christ, 
and actually using it as a reason for not 
trusting Christ immediately.' You think 
your earnestness will lead on to faith, if it 
be but intense enough, and long enough 
persisted in. 

But there is such a thing as earnestness 
in the wrong direction ; earnestness in un- 
belief, and a substitution of earnestness for 
simple faith in Jesus. You must not soothe 
the alarms of conscience by this earnest- 
ness of yours. It is unbelieving earnest- 


ness ; and that will not do. What God 
demands is simple faith in the record which 
he has given you of his Son. You say, I 
can't give him faith, but I can give him 
earnestness ; and by giving him earnest- 
ness, I hope to persuade him to give me 
faith. This is self-righteousness. It shews 
that you regard both faith and earnestness 
as something to be done in order to please 
God, and secure his goodwill. You say, 
Faith is the gift of God, but earnestness is 
not ; it is in my own power ; therefore I 
will earnestly labour, and struggle, and 
pray, hoping that ere long God will take 
pity on my earnest struggles, nay, feeling 
secretly that it would be hardly fair in him 
to disregard such earnestness. Now, if God 
has anywhere said that unbelieving earnest- 
ness and the unbelieving use of means is 
the way of procuring faith, I cannot object 
to such proceeding on your part. But I do 
not find that he has said so, or that the 
apostles in dealing with inquirers set them 


upon this preliminary process for acquiring 
faith. I find that the apostles shut up 
their hearers to immediate faith and re- 
pentance, bringing them face to face with 
the great object of faith, and commanding 
them in the name of the living God to be- 
lieve, just as Jesus commanded the man 
with the withered arm to stretch out his 
hand. The man was thoroughly helpless, 
yet he is, on the spot, commanded to do 
the very thing which he could least of all 
do, the thing which Jesus only could enable 
him to do. The Lord did not give him any 
directions as to a preliminary work, or pre- 
paratory efforts, and struggles, and using 
of means. These are man's attempts to 
bridge over the great gulf by human appli- 
ances ; man's ways of evading the awful 
question of his own utter impotence; man's 
unscriptural devices for sliding out of in- 
ability into ability, out of unbelief into faith ; 
man's plan for helping God to save him ; 
man's self-made ladder for climbing up a 


little way out of the horrible pit, in the 
hope that God will so commiserate his ear- 
nest struggles as to do all the rest that is 

Now God has commanded all men every- 
where to repent ; but he has nowhere given 
us any directions for obtaining repentance. 
God has commanded sinners to believe 
but he has not prescribed for them any 
preparatory steps or process by means of 
w r hich he may be induced to give them 
something which he is not from the first 
most willing to do. It is thus that he 
shuts them up to faith, by "concluding them 
in unbelief." It is thus that he brings 
them to feel both the greatness and the 
guilt of their inability ; and so* constrains 
them to give up every hope of doing any 
thing to save themselves ; — driving them 
out of every refuge of lies, and shewing 
them that these prolonged efforts of theirs 
are hindrances, not helps, and are just so 
many rejections of his own immediate help, 


—so many distrustful attempts to persuade 
him to do what he is already most willing 
to do in their behalf. 

The great manifestation of self-righteous- 
ness, is this struggle to believe. Believing 
is not a work, but a ceasing from work ; 
and this struggle to believe, is just the sin- 
ner's attempt to make a work out of that 
which is no work at all, to make a labour 
out of that which is a resting from labour. 
Sinners will not let go their hold of their 
former confidences and drop into Christ's 
arms. Why ? Because they still trust 
these confidences, and do not trust him who 
speaks to them in the gospel. Instead, 
therefore, of encouraging you to embrace 
more and more earnestly these prelimi- 
nary efforts, I tell you they are all the sad 
indications of self-righteousness. They take 
for granted that Christ has not done his 
work sufficiently, and that God is not will- 
ing to give you faith till you have plied 
him with the arguments and importunities 


of months or years. God is at tkis mcment 
willing to bless you ; and these struggles of 
yours are not, as you fancy, humble at- 
tempts on your part to take the blessing, 
but proud attempts either to put it from 
you, or to get hold of it in some way of 
your own. You cannot, with all your 
struggles, make the Holy Spirit more will- 
ing to give you faith than he is at this 
moment. But your self-righteousness re- 
jects this blessed truth ; and if I were to 
encourage you in these " efforts," I should 
be fostering your self-righteousness and 
your rejection of this grace of the Spirit. 

You say you cannot change your heart or 
do any good thing. So say I. But I say 
more. I say that you are not at all aware 
of the extent of your helplessness and of your 
guilt. These are far greater and far worse 
than you suppose. And it is your imper- 
fect view of these that leads you to resort 
to these appliances. You are not yet sen- 
sible of your weakness, in spite of all you 


say. It is this that is keeping you from 
God and God from you. 

God commands you to believe and to re- 
pent. It is at your peril that you attempt 
to alter this imperative and immediate obli- 
gation by the substitution of something 
preliminary, the performance of which may 
perhaps soothe your terrors and lull your 
conscience asleep, but will not avail either 
to propitiate God or to lift you into a 
safer, or more salvable condition, as you 
imagine. For we are saved by faith, not 
by efforts to induce " an unwilling God " 
to give us faith. 

God commands you to believe ; and, so 
long as you do not believe, you are making 
him a liar, you are rejecting the truth, 
you are believing a lie ; for unbelief is, in 
reality, the belief in a lie. Yes, God 
commands you to believe ; and your not 
believing is your worst sin ; and it is by 
exhibiting it as your worst sin, that God 
shuts you up to faith. Now, if you try to 


extenuate this sin ; if you lay this flatter- 
ing unction to your soul, that, by making 
all these earnest and laborious efforts to 
believe, you are lessening this awful sin, 
and rendering your unbelieving state a 
less guilty one ; you are deluding your 
conscience, and thrusting away from you 
that divine hand which, by this convic- 
tion of unbelief, is shutting you up to 

I do not remember to have seen this 
better stated anywhere than in Fuller's 
"Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation." I 
give just a few sentences : — " It is the 
duty of ministers not only to exhort their 
carnal hearers to believe in Jesus Christ 
for the salvation of their souls ; but IT is 


involve or imply it. We have sunk 
into such a compromising way of dealing 
with the unconverted, as to have well nigh 
lost the spirit of the primitive preachers \ 


and hence it is that sinners of every de- 
scription can sit so quietly as they do in 
our places of worship. Christ and his 
apostles, without any hesitation, called on 
sinners to repent and believe the gospel ; 
but we, considering them as poor, im- 
potent, and depraved creatures, have been 
disposed to drop this part of the Christian 
ministry. Considering such things as be- 
yond the power of their hearers, they seem 
to have contented themselves with press- 
ing on them the things they could per- 
form, still continuing enemies of Christ ; 
such as behaving decently in society, 
reading the Scriptures, and attending the 
means of grace. Thus it is that hearers 
of this description sit at ease in our con- 
gregations. But as this implies no guilt 
on their part, they sit unconcerned, con- 
ceiving that all that is required of them is 
to lie in the way and wait the Lord's time. 
But is this the religion of the Scriptures ? 
Where does it appear that the prophets 


or apostles treated that kind of inability, 
which is merely the effect of reigning 
aversion, as affording any excuse? And 
where have they descended in their exhor- 
tations to things which might be done, 
and the parties still continue the enemies 
of God? Instead of leaving out every- 
thing of a spiritual nature, because their 
hearers could not find in their hearts to 
comply with it, it may be safely affirmed 
that they exhorted to nothing else, treat- 
ing such inability not only as of no ac- 
count with regard to the lessening of obli- 
gation, but as rendering the subjects of it 

worthy of the severest rebuke 

Repentance toward God, and faith towards 
our Lord Jesus Christ, are allowed to be 
duties, but not immediate duties. The 
sinner is considered as unable to comply 
with them, and therefore they are not 
urged upon him ; but instead of them, he 
is directed to pray for the Holy Spirit to 

enable him to repent and believe ! This, 



it seems, he cayi do, notwithstanding the 
aversion of his heart from everything of 
the kind. But if any man be required to 
pray for the Holy Spirit, it must be either 
sincerely and in the name of Jesus, or in- 
sincerely and in some other way. The 
latter, I suppose, will be allowed to be an 
abomination in the sight of God ; te can- 
not, therefore, be required to do this ; and 
as to the former, it is just as difficult and 
as opposite to the carnal heart as repent- 
ance and faith themselves. Indeed, it 
amounts to the same thing ; for a sincere 
desire after a spiritual blessing, presented 
in the name of Jesus, is no other than the 
"prayer of faith." 

The great thing which I would press 
upon your conscience is the awful guilt 
that there is in unbelief. Continuance in 
unbelief is continuance in the very worst 
of sins ; and continuance in it, because (as 
you say) you cannot help it, is the worst 
aggravation of your sin. The habitual 


drunkard says, he " cannot help it ;* the 
habitual swearer says, he " cannot help it;" 
the habitual unbeliever says, he " cannot 
help it." Do you admit the drunkard's 
excuse ? Or do you not tell him that it is 
the worst feature of his case, and that he 
ought to be utterly ashamed of himself for 
using such a plea ? Do you say, I know 
you can't give up your drunken habits, but 
you can go and pray to God to enable you 
to give up these habits, and perhaps God 
will hear you and enable you to do so, 
What would this be but to tell him to go 
on drinking and praying alternately ; and 
that, possibly, God may hear his drunken 
prayers, and give him sobriety ? You 
would not deal with drunkenness in this 
way ; ought you to deal thus with unbelief? 
Ought you not to press home the unutter- 
able guilt of unbelief ; and to shew a sin- 
ner that, when he says I cant help my un- 
belief, he is uttering his most dreadful con- 
demnation, and saying, I can't help distrust- 


ing God, I can't help hating God, 1 can't 
help making God a liar ; and that he might 
just as well say, I can't help stealing, and 
lying, and swearing. 

Never let unbelief be spoken of as a 
misfortune. It is awfully sinful; and its 
root is the desperate wickedness of the 
heart. How resolutely evil must that 
heart be, when it will not even believe ! 
For this depravity of soul and need of a 
heavenly Quickener, cannot palliate our 
unbelief, or make it less truly the sin 
of sins. If our helplessness and hardness 
of heart lessened our guilt, then the more 
wicked we became, we should be the less re- 
sponsible and the less guilty. The sinner 
who loves sin so much that he " can-not" 
part with it, is the most guilty of all. The 
man who says, I " cannot" love God, is pro- 
claiming himself one of the worst of sin- 
ners ; but he who says, I " cannot" even 
believe, is taking to himself a guilt which 


we may truly call the darkest and most 
damnable of all. 

Oh the unutterable guilt involved even 
in one moment's unbelief — one single act 
of an unbelieving soul ! How much more 
in the continuous unbelief of twenty or 
sixty years ! To steal once is bad enough, 
how much more to be a thief by habit and 
repute ! We think it bad enough when a 
man is overtaken with drunkenness, how 
much more when we have to say of him, he 
is never sober. Such is our charge against 
the man who has not yet known Christ. 
He is a continuous unbeliever. His life is 
one unbroken course of unbelief, and hence 
of false worship, if he worships at all* 

* There is a tendency among some to undervalue 
doctrine, to exact morality at the expense of theology, 
and to deny the importance of a soTind creed. I do 
not doubt that a sound creed has often covered an un- 
sound life, and that "much creed, little faith," is true 
of multitudes. But when we hear it said, " Such a 
man is far gone in error, hut his heart is in its right 
place ; he disbelieves the substitution on the cross, 


Every new moment is a new act of unbe- 
lief ; a new commission of the worst of sins ; 
the sin of sins ; — a sin in comparison with 

but he rests on Christ himself," — we wonder, and ask, 
What then was the Bible written for ? It may be (if 
this be the case) a book of thought like Bacon's No- 
vum Organum, but it is no standard of truth, no infalli- 
ble expression of the mind of an infallible being ! 
The solemnity with which that book affirms the one- 
ness of truth, and the awful severity with which it 
condemns every departure from the truth, as a direct 
attack on God himself, shew us the danger of saying 
that a man's heart may be in its right place though 
his head contains a creed of error. Faith and unbe- 
lief are not mere mental manipulations, to which no 
moral value is attached. Doctrine is not a mere form 
of thought or phase of opinion. Within what limits 
such might have been the case had there been no 
revelation, 1 do not say. But, with a revelation, all 
mental transactions as to truth and error assume a 
moral character, with which the highest responsibility 
is connected ; their results have a moral value, and 
are linked with consequences of the most momentous 
kind. On true doctrine rests the worship of the true 
God. From error springs the worship of a false God. 
If, then, Jehovah is a jealous God, not giving his glory 


winch stealing, and drunkenness, and mur- 
der, awful as they are, become as trifles. 

Let the thought of this guilt, anxious 
soul, cut your conscience to the quick ! 
Oh tremble as you think of what it is to 
be, not for a day or an hour, for a whole life- 

to another, unbelief must be one of the worst of sins ; 
and error not only a deadly poison to the soul receiv- 
ing it, but hateful to God as blasphemy against him- 
self, and the same in nature as the blind theologies of 
paganism, on which is built the worship of Baal, or 
Brahm, or Jupiter. The real root of all unbelief is 
atheism. Man's guilty conscience modifies this, turns 
it into idolatry; or his sentimental nature modifies it, 
and turns it into pantheism. The fool's " No God " is 
really the root of all unbelief. 



Ezek. xxxvi. 26-37. Acts v. 31. Eph. iii. 20. 

Luke xi. 9-13. 1 Cor. ii. 3, 5. 1 Tim i. 14. 

John i. 12. 2 Cor. xii. 9. James i. 5, 6. 

You say, I know all these things, yet they 
bring me no peace. 

I doubt much in that case whether you 
do know them ; and I should like you to 
begin to doubt upon this point. You take 
for granted much too easily that you know 
them. Seeing they do not bring to your 
soul the peace which God says they are 
sure to do, your wisest way would be to 
suspect the correctness of your knowledge. 
If a trusty physician prescribes a sure medi- 
cine for some complaint, and if on trial I 


find that what I have taken does me no 
good, I begin to suspect that I have got: 
some wrong medicine instead of that which 
he prescribed. 

Now "are you sure that the truth which,, 
you say you know, is the very gospel of the- 
grace of God ? Or is it only something Like 
it ? And may not the reason of your get- 
ting no peace from that which you believe, 
just be, because it contains none ? You 
have got hold of many of the good things,, 
but you have missed, perhaps, the one thing 
which made it a joyful sound ? You be- 
lieve perhaps the whole gospel, save the 
one thing which maks* it good news to a 

sinner ? You see the cross as bringing- sal- 
es o 

vation very near ; but not so absolutely 
close as to be in actual contact with you as. 
you are ; not so entirely close but that 
there is a little space, just a handbreadth 
or a hairbreadth, to be made up by your 
own prayers, or efforts, or feelings ? " Every- 
thing," you say, " is complete ; but, then, 



that want of feeling in myself ! Ah, there 
it is ! Thei e is the little unfinished bit of 
Christ's work which you are trying to 
finish, or to persuade him by your prayers, 
to finish for you ! That want of feeling is 
the little inch of distance which you have 
to get removed before the completeness of 
Christ's work is available for you ! 

The consciousness of insensibility, like 
the sense of guilt, ought to be one of your 
reasons for trusting him the more, whereas 
you make it a reason for not trusting him 
at all. Would a child treat a father or 
a mother thus ? Would it make its bodily 
weakness a reason for distrusting parental 
love ? Would it not feel that that weak- 
ness was thoroughly known to the parent, 
and was just the very thing that was draw- 
ing out more love and skill ? A stronger 
child would need less care and tenderness. 
But the poor helpless palsied one would be 
of all others the likeliest to be pitied and 
watched over. Deal thus with Christ ; and 


make that hardness of heart an additional 
reason for trusting him, and for prizing his 
finished work. 

This state of mind shews that you are 
not believing the right thing ; but some- 
thing else which will not heal your hurt ; 
or, at least, that you are mixing up some- 
thing w T ith the right thing, which will 
neutralise all its healing properties. 

You must begin at the beginning once 
more ; and go back to the simplest elements 
of heavenly truth, which are wrapped up 
in the great facts that Jesus died and rose 
again; facts too little understood, nay, un- 
dervalued by many ; facts to which the 
apostles attached such vast importance, 
and on which they laid so much stress ; 
facts out of which the primitive believers, 
without the delay of weeks or months, ex- 
tracted their peace and joy. 

You say, I cannot believe. Let us look 
into this complaint of yours. 

I know that the Holy Spirit is as indis- 


pensable to jour believing, as is Christ 
in order to your being pardoned. The 
Holy Spirit's work is direct and power- 
ful ; and yon will not rid yourself of your 
difficulties by trying to persuade yourself 
that his operations are all indirect, and 
merely those of a teacher presenting truth 
to you. Salvation for the sinner is Christ's 
work ; salvation in the sinner is the Spirit's 
work. Of this internal salvation he is the 
beginner and the ender. He works in you, 
in order to your believing, as truly as he 
works in you after you have believed, and 
in consequence of your believing. 

This doctrine, instead of being a dis- 
couragement, is one of unspeakable en- 
couragement to the sinner; and he will 
acknowledge this, if he knows himself to be 
the thoroughly helpless being which the 
Bible says he is. If he is not totally de- 
praved, he will feel the doctrine of the 
Spirit's a hindrance, no doubt ; but as, in 
that case., he will be able to save himself 


without much assistance, he might just 
set aside the Spirit altogether, and work 
his way to heaven without his help ! 

The truth is, that without the Spirit's 
direct and almighty help, there could be no 
hope for a totally depraved being at alL 

You speak of this inability to believe as 
if it were some unprovided for difficulty ; 
and as if the discovery of it had sorely cast 
you down. You would not have so des- 
ponded had you found that you could 
believe of yourself, without the Spirit ; and 
it would greatly relieve you to be told that 
you could dispense with the Spirit's help in 
this matter. If this would relieve you, it 
is plain that you have no confidence in the 
Spirit; and you wish to have the power 
inyour own hands, because you believe your 
own willingness to be much greater than 
his. Did you but know the blessed truth, 
that his willingness far exceeds yours, you 
would rejoice that th'e power was in his. 

hands rather than in your own. You would 



feel far more certain of attaining the end 
desired when the strength needed is in 
hands so infinitely gracious ; and you would 
feel that the man who told you that you 
had all the needed strength in yourself, 
was casting- down your best hope, and rob- 
bing you of a heavenly treasure. 

How eagerly some grasp at the idea, 
that they can believe, and repent, and turn 
of themselves, as if this were consolation to 
the troubled spirit I as if this were the un- 
ravelling of its dark perplexities ! Is it 
comfort to persuade yourself that you are 
not wholly without strength? Can you, 
by lessening the sum total of your depravity 
and inability, find the way to peace ? Is it 
a relief to your burdened spirit to be de- 
livered from the necessity of being wholly 
indebted to the Spirit of God for faith and 
repentance ? Will it rescue you from the 
bitterness of despair to be told that yon 
had not enough strength left to enable you 
to love God, yet that, in virtue of some little 


remaining power, you can perform this least 
of all religious acts, believing on the Son of 

If such be your feeling, it is evident that 
you do not know the extent of your own 
disease, nor the depths of your evil heart, 
you don't understand the good news brought 
to you by the Son of God, — of complete 
deliverance from all that oppresses you, 
whether it be guilt or helplessness. You 
have forgotten the blessed announcement, 
"In the Lord have I righteousness and 
strength" (Isa. xlv. 24). Your strength, as 
well as your righteousness, is in another ; 
yet, while you admit the former, you deny 
the latter. You have forgotten, too, the 
apostle's rejoicing in the strength of his 
Lord ; his feeling that when he was weak 
then he was strong ; and his determination 
to glory in his infirmities, that the power of 
Christ might rest upon him, (2 Cor. xii. 9). 

If you understand the genuine gospel in 
all its freeness, you would feel that the man 


who tries to persuade you that you have 
strength enough left to do without the 
Spirit, is as great an enemy of the cross, 
and of your soul, as the man who wants to 
make you believe that you are not alto- 
gether guilty, but have some remaining 
goodness, and therefore do not need to be 
wholly indebted for pardon to the blood 
and righteousness of Immanuel. "Without 
strength" is as literal a description of your 
state, as "without goodness." If you under- 
stand the gospel, the consciousness of your 
total helplessness would just be the dis- 
covery that you are the very sinner to 
whom the great salvation is sent ; that your 
inability was all foreseen and provided for, 
and that you are in the very position which 
needs, which calls for, and which shall re- 
ceive, the aid of the Almighty Spirit. 

Till you feel yourself in this extremity 
of weakness, you are not in a condition (if 
I may say so) to receive the heavenly help. 
Your idea of remaining ability is the very 


thing that repels the help of the Spirit, 
just as any idea of remaining goodness 
thrusts away the propitiation of the Saviour. 
It is your not seeing that you have no 
strength that is keeping you from believing. 
So long as you think you have some strength 
you will be trying to use that strength in 
doing something, — and specially in perform- 
ing to your own and Satan's satisfaction, 
that great act or exercise of soul called 
" faith." But when you find out that you 
have no strength left, you will, in blessed 
despair, cease to work, — and (ere you are 
aware) — believe ! For, if believing be not a 
ceasing to work, it is at least the necessary 
and immediate result of it. You expended 
your little stock of imagined strength in 
holding fast the ropes of self-righteousness, 
but now, when the conviction of having no 
strength at all is forced upon you, you 
drop into the arms of Jesus. But this you 
will never do, so long as you fancy that 
you have strength to believe. 


Paul, after many years' believing, still 
drew his strength from Christ alone ; how 
much more must you and others who have 
never yet believed at all % He said, " I 
take pleasure in my infirmities!' that is, 
my want of strength. You say, I am cast 
down because of it ! 

They who tell you that you have some 
power left, and that you are to use that 
power in believing and repenting, are 
enemies of your peace, and subverters of 
the gospel. They in fact say to you that 
faith is a work, and that you are to do that 
work in order to be saved. They mock 
you. In yielding to them you are main- 
taining that posture which vexes and re- 
sists the Spirit which is striving within 
you ; you are proudly asserting for fallen 
man a strength which belongs only to the 
unfallen ; you are denying the completeness 
of the divine provision made for the sinner 
in the fulness of Him in whom it pleased 
the Father that all fulness should dwelL 


The folio wing sentence from an old writer 
is worth pondering : — 

" Ask him what it is he finds makes be- 
lieving difficult to him ? Is it unwilling- 
ness to be justified and saved ? Is it un- 
willingness to be so saved by Jesus Christ, 
to the praise of God's grace in him, and to 
the voiding of all boasting in himself? 
This he will surely deny. Is it a distrust 
of the truth of the gospel record % This he 
dare not own. Is it a doubt of Christ's 
ability or good-will to save? This is to 
contradict the testimony of God in the 
gospel. Is it because he doubts of an in- 
terest in Christ and his redemption ? You 
tell him that believing on Christ makes up 
the interest in him. If he say that he can- 
not believe on Jesus Christ, because of the 
difficulty of the acting this faith, and that 
a divine power is needful to draw it forth, 
which he finds not, you tell him that be- 
lieving in Jesus Christ is no work, but a 
resting on Jesus Christ ; and that this pre- 


tence is as unreasonable* as that if a man 
wearied with a journey, and who is not able 
to go one step farther, should argue, ' I am 
so tired that I am not able to lie down,' 
when, indeed, he can neither stand nor go. 
The poor wearied sinner can never believe 
on Jesus Christ till he finds he can do no- 
thing for himself, and in his first believing 
doth always apply himself to Christ for 
salvation, as a man hopeless and helpless 
in himself. And by such reasonings with 
him from the gospel, the Lord will (as he 
hath often done) convey faith, and joy, and 
peace, by believing."* 

Your puzzling yourself with this " can- 
not, " shews that you are proceeding in a 
wrong direction. You are still labouring 
under the idea that this believing is a 
work to be done by you, and not the sim- 
ple acknowledgment of a work done by 
another. You would fain do something in 
order to get peace, and you think that if 
* Trail. 


you could ouly do this great thing called 
faith, God would reward you with peace, 
In this view, faith is a price as well as a 
work ; whereas it is neither ; but a ceasing 
from work and from attempting to pay for 
salvation. Faith is not a climbing of the 
mountain ; but a ceasing to attempt it, 
and allowing Christ to carry you up in his 

You seem to think that it is your own 
act of faith that is to save you ; whereas 
it is the object of your faith, without which 
your own act of faith, however well per- 
formed, is nothing. Supposing that this 
believing is a mighty work, you ask, " How 
am I to get it properly performed ?" But 
your peace is not to come from any such 
performance, but entirely from Him to 
whom the Father is pointing, " Behold my 
servant whom I have chosen." As if he 
would say, " Look at him as Israel looked 
a,t the serpent of brass : forget everything 

about yourself, — your faith, your frames 



your repentance, your prayers, — and look 
at Him." It is in Him, and not in your 
poor act of faith, that salvation lies. It is 
in Him and in his boundless love that you 
you are to find your resting-place. Out of 
Him, not out of your exercise of soul con- 
cerning him, that peace is to come. Look- 
ing at your own faith will only minister to 
your self-righteousness ; it is like letting 
your left hand know what your right hand 
doeth. To seek for satisfaction as to the 
quality or quantity of your faith, before 
you will take comfort from Christ's work, 
is to proceed upon the supposition that 
that work is not sufficient of itself to give 
you comfort, as soon as received ; and that 
until made sufficient by a certain amount 
of religious feeling, it contains no comfort 
to the sinner ; — in short, that the com- 
forting or comfortable ingredient is an 
indescribable something, depending for its 
efficiency ohiefly upon the superior ex- 
cellence of your own act of faith, and the 


success of your own exertions in putting it 

Your inability, then, does not lie in the 
impossibility of your performing aright this 
great act of believing, but of ceasing from 
all such self-righteous attempts to perform 
any act, or do anything whatever, in order 
to your being saved. So that the real 
truth is, that you have not yet seen such 
a sufficiency in the one great work of the 
Son of God upon the cross, as to lead you 
utterly to discontinue your wretched efforts 
to work out something of your own. As 
soon as the Holy Spirit shews you the 
entire sufficiency of the great propitiation, 
for the sinner, just as he is, you cease your 
attempts to act or work, and take, instead 
of all such exercises of yours, that which 
Christ has done. The Spirit's work is not 
to enable a man to do something which 
will save him or help to save him, but so 
to detach him from all his own exertions 
and performances, whether good, bad, or 


indifferent, that lie should be content with 
the salvation which the Saviour of the lost 
has finished. 

Remember that what you call your in- 
ability God calls your guilt ; and that this 
inability is a wilful thing. It was not put 
into you by God ; for he made you with 
the full power of doing everything he tells 
you to do. You disobey and disbelieve 
willingly. No one forces you to do either. 
Your rejection of Christ is. the FREE AND 

That inability of yours is a fearfully 
wicked thing. It is the summing up of 
your depravity. It makes you more like 
the devil than almost anything else. In- 
capable of loving God, or even of believ- 
ing on his Son ! Capable only of hating 
him, and of rejecting Christ ! O dreadful 
guilt ! "Unutterable wickedness of the 
human heart .! 

Is it really the cannot that is keeping 
you back from Christ \ No ; it is the will 


not. You have not got the length of the 
cannot. It is the will not that is the real 
and present barrier. "Ye will not come 
to me that ye might have life," (John v. 
40). "Whosoever will, let him take the 
water of life freely/' (Rev. xxii. 17). 

If your heart would speak out it would 
say; " Well, after all, I cannot, and God 
will not." And what is this but saying, 
" I have a hard-hearted God to deal with, 
who won't help or pity me?' Whatever 
your rebellious heart may say, Christ's 
words are true, " Ye will not." What he 
spoke when weeping over impenitent Jeru- 
salem he speaks to you, " I would but ye 
would not" (Matt, xxiii. 37). " They are 
fearful words," writes Dr Owen, " ' ye would 
not.' Whatever is pretended, it is will and 
stubbornness that He at the bottom of this 
refusal." And oh! what must be the 
strength as well as the guilt of this un- 
belief, when nothing but the almightiness 

of the Holy Ghost can root it out of you ? 



You are perplexed by the doctrine of 
God's sovereignty and election. I wonder 
that any man believing in a God should 
be perplexed by these. For if there be a 
God, a " King, eternal, immortal, and in- 
visible," he cannot but be sovereign, — and 
he cannot but do according to his own 
will, and choose according to his own pur- 
pose. You may dislike these doctrines, but 
you can only get quit of them by denying 
altogether the existence of an infinitely 
wise, glorious, and powerful Being. God 
would not be God were he not thus 
absolutely sovereign in his present doings 
and his eternd pre-arrangoments. 

But how would it rid you of your per- 
plexities to get quit of sovereignty and 
alection? Suppose these were set aside, 
you still remain the same depraved and 
helpless being as before. The truth is, that 
the sinner's real difficulty lies neither in 
sovereignty nor election, but in h is own 
depravity. If the removal of these " hard 


doctrines " (as some call them) would lessen 
his own sinfulness, or make him more able 
to believe and repent, the hardship would 
lie at their door ; but if not, then these 
doctrines are no hindrance at all. If it be 
God's sovereignty that is keeping him from 
coming to Christ, the sinner has serious 
matter of complaint against the doctrine. 
But if it be his own depravity, is it not 
foolish to be objecting to a truth that has 
never thrown one single straw of a hin- 
drance in the way of his return to God ? * 
Election has helped many a soul to heaven ; 

* Yet let me notice a way of speaking of this 
sovereignty which is not scriptural. Some tell the 
anxious sinner that the first thing he has to do, in 
order to faith, is to submit to this sovereignty, and that 
when he has done so, God will give him faith ! This 
is far wrong surely. Submission to the divine sove- 
reignty is one of the highest results of faith, — how can 
it be preparatory to faith ? The sinner is told that he 
14 cannot believe " of himself, but he can submit him- 
self to God's sovereignty ! He cannot do the lowest 
thing, but ).e can do the highest ; — nay, and he must 


but never yet hindered one. Depravity is 
the hindrance ; election is God's way of 
overcoming that hindrance. And if that 
hindrance is not overcome in all, but only 
in some, who shall find fault ? Was God 
bound to overcome it in all 1 Was he 
bound to bring every man to Christ, and 
to pluck every brand from the burning ? 
Do not blame God for that which belongs 
solely to yourself ; nor be troubled about 
His sovereignty when the real cause of 
trouble is your own desperately wicked 

begin by doing the highest, in order to prepare him- 
self for doing the lowest ! It is faith, not unbelief, that 
will thus submit ; and yet the unconverted sinner is 
recommended to do, and to do in unbelief, the highest 
act of faith ! This surely is turning theology upside 




Jer. iii. 22. Matt. 

ir. 33,24. 

k ii. 17. 

Luke xix. 10. 2 Peter iii. 9. 

You say that you do not feel yourself to 
be a sinner ; that you are not " anxious " 
enough ; that you are not " penitent " 

Be it so. Let me, however, ask you 
such questions as the following : — 

1. Does your want of feeling alter the 
gospel ? Does it make the good news less 
free, less blessed, less suitable ? Is it not 
glad tidings of God's love to the unworthy, 
the unloveable, the insensible ? Your not 
feeling your burdens does not affect the 
nature of the gospel, nor change the gra- 


cious character of Him from whom it comes. 
It suits you as you are, and you suit it 
exactly. It comes up to you on the spot, 
and says, Here is a whole Christ for you, — • 
a Christ containing eve^thing you need. 
Your acquisition of feeling would not qua- 
lify you for it, nor bring it nearer, nor 
buy its blessings, nor make you more wel- 
come, nor persuade God to do anything 
for you what he is not at this moment most 
willing to do. 

2. Is your want of feeling an excuse for 
your unbelief? Faith does not spring 
out of feeling, but feeling out of faith. The 
less you feel the more you should trust. 
You cannot feel aright till you have be- 
lieved. As all true repentance has its root 
in faith, so all true feeling has the same. 
It is vain for you to attempt to reverse 
God's order of things. 

3. Is your want of feeling a reason for 
your staying away from Christ ? A sense 
of want should lead you to Christ, and not 


keep you away. " More are drawn to 
Christ," says old Thomas Shepherd, "under 
a sense of a dead, blind heart, than by all 
sorrows, humiliations, and terrors." The 
less of feeling or conviction that you have, 
you are the more needy ; and is that a 
reason for keeping aloof from him ? In- 
stead of being less fit for coming, you are 
more fit. The blindness of Bartimeus was 
his reason for coming to Christ, not for 
staying away. If you have more blind- 
ness and deadness than others, you have 
so many more reasons for coming, so many 
fewer for standing afar off. If the whole 
head is sick and the whole heart faint, you 
should feel yourself the more shut up to 
the necessity of coming, — and that imme- 
diately. Whatever others may do who 
have convictions, you who have none dare 
not stay away, nor even wait an hour. 
You must come ! 

4. Will your want of feeling make you 
less welcome to Christ? How is this? 


What makes you think so ? Has he said 
so, or did he act, when on earth, as if this 
were his rule of procedure ? Had the 
woman of Sychar any feeling when he 
spoke to her so lovingly? (John iv. 10). 
Was it the amount of conviction in Zac- 
cheus that made the Lord address him so 
graciously, " Make haste, for to-day I must 
abide at thy house?" The balm of Gilead 
will not be the less suitable for you, nor 
the physician there the less affectionate 
and cordial, because, in addition to other 
diseases, you are afflicted with the be- 
numbing palsy. Your greater need only 
gives him an opportunity of shewing the 
extent of his fulness, as well as the riches 
of his grace. Come to him, then, just be- 
cause you do not feel. " Him that cometh 
to me I will in no wise cast out." What- 
ever you may feel, or may not feel, it is 
still a faithful saying, and worthy of all 
acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into 
the world to save- sinners. Do not limit 


the grace of God, nor suspect the love of 
Christ. Confidence in that grace and love will 
do everything for you ; want of confidence, 
nothing. Christ wants you to come ; not to" 
wait, nor to stay away. 

5. Will your remaining away from 
Christ remove your want of feeling ? No. 
It will only make it worse ; for it is a 
disease which' he only can remove. So 
that a double necessity is laid upon you 
for going to Him. Others who feel more 
than you may linger. You cannot afford 
to do so. You must go immediately to 
Him who is exalted " a Prince and a 
Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and 
the forgiveness of sins," (Acts v. 31). See- 
ing that distance and distrust will do no- 
thing for you, try what " drawing near " 
and confidence will do. To you, though 
the chief of sinners, the message is, " Let 
us draw near," (Heb. x. 22). God com- 
mands you to come, without any further 
delay or preparation; to bring with you 


your sins, your unbelief, your insensibility, 
your heart, your will, your whole man, and 
to put them into Christ's hands. God de- 
mands your immediate confidence and in- 
stant surrender to Christ. " Kiss the Son " 
is his message, (Psa. ii. 12). His word in- 
sists on your return, — " Return unto the 
Lord thy God," (Hos. xiv. 1). It shews 
you that the real cause of the continuance 
of this distance is your unwillingness to 
let Christ save you in his own way, — and 
a desire to have the credit of removing 
your insensibility by your own prayers and 

6. Is not your insensibility one of your 
worst sins. A hard-hearted child is one of 
the most hateful of beings. You may pity 
and excuse many things, but not hard- 
heartedness. " Thou art the man." Thou 
art the hard-hearted child ! Cease then to 
mty yourself, and learn only to condemn. 
Give this sin no quarter. Treat it not as 
a misfortune, but as unmingled guiltiness. 


You may call it a disease ; but remember 
that it is an inexcusable sin. It is one great 
all-pervading sin added to your innumer- 
able others. This should shut you up to 
Christ. As an incurable leper you must go 
to him for cure. As a desperate criminal, 
you must go to him for pardon. Do not, 
I beseech you, add to this awful sin, the 
yet more damning sin of refusing to ac- 
knowledge Christ as the healer of all dis- 
eases, and the forgiver of all iniquities. 

Repentance is only to be got from Christ. 
Why then should you make the want of it 
a reason for staying away from him ? Go 
to Him for it. He is exalted to give it. 
If you speak of " waiting," you only shew 
that you are not sincere in your desire to 
have it. No man in such circumstances 
would think of waiting. Your conviction 
of sin is to come not by waiting, but by 
looking ; looking to Him whom your sins 
have crucified, and whom, by your distrust 
and unbelief, you are crucifying afresh. 


Is it not written, " They shall look on me 
whom they have pierced, and they shall 
mourn f (Zech. xii. 10). 

Beware of fancying that convictions are 
to save yon, or that they are to be desired 
for their own sakes. Tims writes an old 
minister, " I was put out of conceit with 
legal terrors ; for I thought they were 
good, and only esteemed them happy that 
were under them ; they came, but I found 
they did me ill ; and unless the Lord had 
guided me thus, I think I should have died 
doating after them." And another says, 
" Sense of a dead, hard heart are an effec- 
tual means to draw to Christ ; yea, more 
effectual than any other can be, because it 
is the poor, the blind, the naked, the 
miserable, that are invited." 

As to what is called a " law-work," pre- 
paratory to faith in Christ, let us consult 
the Acts of the Apostles. There we have 
the preaching of the apostolic gospel and the 
fruits of it, in the conversion of thousands. 


We have several inspired sermons, ad- 
dressed both to Jew and Gentile ; but into 
none of these is the law introduced. That 
which pricked the hearts of the three 
thousand at Pentecost was a simple nar- 
rative of the life, death, burial, and resur- 
rection of Jesus of Nazareth, concluding 
with these awful words, which must have 
sounded like the trumpet of doom to those 
who heard them, " Therefore let all the 
house of Israel know, that God hath made 
that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, 
both Lord and Christ," (Acts ii. 36). These 
were words more terrible than law ; more 
overwhelming than Sinai heard. Awful 
as it would have been to be told, " Yo 
have broken the whole law of God ;" what 
was this to being told, " Ye have crucified 
his Son V The sin of crucifying the Lord 
of glory was greater than that of breaking 
a thousand laws. And yet in that very deed 
of consummate wickedness was contained 

the gospel of the grace of God. That which 



pronounced the sinner's condemnation, de- 
clared also his deliverance. There was life 
in that death ; and the nails which fastened 
the Son of God to the cross, let out the 
pent-up stream of divine love upon the 
murderers themselves ! 

The gospel was the apostolic hammer for 
breaking hard hearts in pieces ; for produc- 
ing repentance unto life. It was a believed 
gospel that melted the obduracy of the 
self-righteous Jew ; and nothing but the 
good news of God's free love, condemning 
the sin yet pardoning the sinner, will, in 
our own day, melt the heart and " soften 
human rockwork into men." " Law and 
terrors do but harden ;" and their power, 
though wielded by an Elijah, is feeble in 
comparison with that of a preached cross. 
" O blessed cross of Christ," as Luther, 
using an old hymn, used to say, " there is 
no wood like thine !" 

The word " repentance " signifies in the 
Greek, " change of mind ;" and this change 


the Holy Spirit produces in connection 
with the gospel, not the law. " Repent and 
believe the gospel " (Mark i. 15), does not 
mean "get repentance by the law, and 
then believe the gospel ;" but " let this 
good news about the kingdom which I am 
preaching, lead you to change your views 
and receive the gospel." Repentance being 
put before faith here, simply implies, that 
there must be a turning from what is false 
in order to the reception. of what is true. 
If I would turn my face to the north, I 
must turn it from the south ; yet I should 
not think of calling the one of these pre- 
paratory to the other. They must, in the 
nature of things, go together. Repentance 
then is not, in any sense, a preliminary 
qualification for faith, — least of all in the 
sense of sorrow for sin. " It must be 
reckoned a settled point," says Calvin,* 
"that repentance not only immediately 
follows upon faith, but springs out of it. . . 
* Institutes, B. III., ch. iii. sect. 1. 


They who think that repentance goes be- 
fore faith, instead of flowing from or being 
produced by it, as fruit from a tree, have 
never understood its nature/' And Dr 
Colquhoun remarks, "Justifying and saving 
faith is the mean of true repentance ; and 
this repentance is not the mean but the 
end of that faith/'* 

That terror of conscience may go before 
faith, I do not doubt. But such terror is 
very unlike Bible repentance ; and its tend- 
ency is to draw men away from, not to, the 
the cross. Alarms, such as these, are not 
uncommon among unbelieving men, such 
as Ahab and Judas. They will be heard 
with awful distinctness in hell ; but they 
are not repentance. Sorrow for sin comes 
from " apprehension of the mercy of God 
in Christ/' from the sight of the cross and 
of the love which the cross reveals. The 

* View of Evangelical Kepentance, p. 164. See 
the whole chapter on the Priority of Saving Faith to 


broken and the contrite heart is the result 
of our believing the glad tidings of God's 
foee love, in the death and resurrection of 
his Son. Few things are more dangerous 
to the anxious soul than the endeavours to 
get convictions, and terrors, and humilia- 
tions, as preliminaries to believing the gos- 
pel. They who would tell a sinner that 
the reason of his not finding peace is that 
he is not anxious enough, nor convicted 
enough, nor humbled enough, are enemies 
to the cross of Christ. They who would 
inculcate a course of prayer, and humilia- 
tion, and self-examination, and dealing with 
the law, in order to believing in Christ, 
are teaching what is the very essence of 
Popery ; not the less poisonous and peril- 
ous, because refined from Romish gross- 
ness, and administered under the name of 

Christ asks no preparation of any kind 
whatsoever, — legal or evangelical, outward 
or inward, — in the coming sinner. And he 


that will not come as he is shall never be 
received at all. It is not " exercised souls/' 
nor " penitent believers," nor well-humbled 
"seekers," nor earnest "users of the means," 
nor any of the better class of Adam's sons 
and daughters ; — but sinners, that Christ 
welcomes. " He came not to call the 
righteous, but sinners to repentance," 
(Luke v. 32). " This man receiveth sin- 
ners" (Luke xv. 2). 

Spurious repentance, the produce and 
expression of unbelief and self-righteousness, 
may be found previous to faith ; — -just as 
all manner of evils abound in the soul be- 
fore it believes. But when faith comes, it 
comes not as the result of this self-wrought 
repentance, — but in spite of it ; and this so- 
called repentance will be afterwards regarded 
by the believing soul as one of those self- 
righteous efforts, whose only tendency 
was to keep the sinner from the Saviour. 
They who call on " penitent sinners " to 
believe, mistake both repentance and faith; 


and that which they teach is no glad tid- 
ings to the sinner. To the better class of 
sinners (if such there be), who have by 
laborious efforts got themselves sufficiently 
humbled, it may be glad tidings ; but not 
to those who are " without strength," the 
lost, the ungodly, the hard-hearted, the in- 
sensible, the lame, the blind, the halt, the 
maimed. " It is not sound doctrine," says 
Dr Colquhoun, " to teach that Christ will 
receive none but the true penitent, or that 
none else is warranted to come by faith to 
him for salvation. The evil of that doctrine 
is that it sets needy sinners on spinning 
repentance, as it were, out of their own 
bowels, and on bringing it with them to 
Christ, instead of coming to him by faith 
to receive it from him. If none be invited 
but the true penitent, then impenitent sin- 
ners are not bound to come to Christ ; and 
cannot be blamed for not coming."* 

* View of Evangelical Repentance, p. 27, 28. 



IftJ. zii. 1-4. 

1 Cor. i. 30. 

Col. iii. 1-11 

... liii. 2, 3. 

Gal. ii. 20. 

EeT. iii. 17-20. 

Matt. xvii. 8. 

Eph. iii. 16-19. 

... v. 9,13. 

John i. 36. 

Phil. iii. 3. 

... xxi. 6. 

You say, " I am ,not satisfied with the mo- 
tives that have led me to seek Christ ; 
they are selfish." That is very likely. The 
feelings of a newly awakened sinner are 
not disinterested, neither can they be so. 

You have gone in quest of salvation from 
a sense of danger, or fear of the wrath to 
come, or a desire to obtain the inheritance 
of glory. These are some of the motives 
by which you are actuated. 

How could it be otherwise ? God made 


you with these fears and hopes ; and he 
appeals to them in his word. When he says,, 
" Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die T* 
he is appealing to your fears. When he^ 
sets eternal life before you, and the joys of 
an endless kingdom, he is appealing to 
your hopes. And when he presents these- 
motives, he expects you to be moved by 
them. To act upon such motives, then,, 
cannot be wrong. Nay, not to act upon them,, 
would be to harden yourself against God's- 
most solemn appeals. " Knowing the terror 
of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. v. 11), 
says Paul. It cannot be wrong to be influ- 
enced by this terror. " The remnant were' 
affrighted, and gave glory to the God of 
heaven," (Rev. xi. 13). This surely was not 
wrong. The whole Bible is full of suck 
motives, addressed to our hopes and fears. 

When was it otherwise ? Among all the 
millions who have found life in Christ, who* 
began in any other way, or from any higher 
motive ? Was it not thus that the jailor 


began when the earthquake shook his soul, 
and called up before his conscience the 
everlasting woe % Was it not a sense of 
danger and a dread of wrath that made him 
ask, " What shall I do to be saved f And 
did the apostle rebuke him for this ? Did 
he refuse to answer his anxious question, 
because his. motive was so selfish? No. 
He answered at once, " Believe on the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and THOU shalt be saved." 

There is nothing wrong in these motives. 
When my body is pained, it is not wrong 
to wish for relief. When overtaken by sick- 
ness, it is not wrong to send for a physi- 
cian. You may call this selfishness, but it 
is a right and lawful selfishness, which He 
who made us what we are, and who gave 
us these instincts, expects us to act upon ; 
and in acting on which, we may count upon 
his blessing, not his rebuke. It is not 
wrong to dread hell, to desire heaven, to from torments, to long for blessed- 
ness, to shun condemnation, and to desire 


pardon.* Let not Satan then ensnare you 
with such foolish thoughts, the tendency of 
which is to quench every serious desire, 
under the pretext of its not being dis- 
interested and perfect. 

You think that, were you seeking salva- 
tion from a regard to the glory of God, 
you would be satisfied. But what does 
that mean, but that, at the very first, even 
before you have come to Christ, you are to 

* It is not wrong to love God for what he has done 
for us. Not to do so, would be the very baseness of in- 
gratitude. To love Gocl purely for what he is, is by some 
spoken of as the highest hind of love, into which enters 
no element of self. It is not so. For in that case, 
you are actuated by the pleasure of loving ; and this 
pleasure of loving an infinitely loveable and glorious 
Being, of necessity introduces self. Besides, to say that 
we are to love God solely for what he is, and not for 
what he has done, is to make ingratitude an essential 
element of pure love. David's love shewed itself in "not 
forgetting God's benefits," (Psa. ciii. 2). But this 
" pure love" soars beyond David's, and finds it a duty 
to be unthankful, lest perchance some selfish element 
mingle itself with its superhuman, superangelic purity. 



be actuated by the highest of all motives? 
He who has learned to seek God's glory is 
one who has already come to Christ ; and 
he who has learned to do this entirely, is no 
sinner at all ; and, therefore, does not need 
Christ. To seek God's glory is a high at- 
tainment of faith ; yet you want to be con- 
scious of possessing it before you have got 
faith, — nay, in order to your getting it ! 
Is it possible that you can be deluding 
yourself with the idea that if you could 
only secure this qualification, you' might 
confidently expect God to give you faith. 
This would be substituting your own zeal 
for his glory, in the room of the cross of 

Do not keep back from Christ under the 
idea that you must come to him in a dis- 
interested frame, and from an unselfish 
motive. If you were right in this thing, 
who could be saved ? You are to come as 
you are ; with all your bad motives, what- 
ever -these may be. Take all your bad 



motives ; add them to the number of your 
sins, and bring them all to the altar where 
the great sacrifice is lying. Go to the 
mercy-seat. Tell the High Priest there, 
not what you desire to be, nor what you 
ought to be, but what you are. Tell him 
the honest truth as to your condition at 
this moment. Confess the impurity of 
your motives ; all the evil that you feel or 
that you don't feel; your hard-heartedness, 
your blindness, your unteachableness. Con- 
fess everything without reserve. He wants 
you to come to Him exactly as you are, 
and not to cherish the vain thought that, 
by a little waiting, or working, or praying, 
you can make yourself fit, or persuade Him 
to make you fit.* 

* " How reasonable," writes one, " that we should 
just do that one small act which God requires of us, 
go and tell him the truth. I used to go and say, Lord, 
I am a sinner, do have mercy on me ; but as I did not 
feel all this, I began to see that I was taking a lie in 
my hand, trying to persuade the Almighty that I fell; 


"But I am not satisfied with my faith? 
you say. No, truly. Nor are yeu ever 
likely to be so. At least I should hope 
not. If you wait for this before you take 
peace, you will wait till life is done. It 
would appear that you want to believe in 
your own faith, in order to obtain rest to 
your soul. The Bible does not say, " Be- 
ing satisfied about our faith, we have peace 
with God," but " Being justified by faith, we 
have peace with God ;" and between these 
two things there is a wonderful difference. 
Satisfaction with Jesus and his work, not 

things which I did not feel. These prayers and con- 
fessions brought me no comfort, no answer ; so at last 
I changed my tone, and began to tell the truth — 
Lord, I do not feel myself a sinner ; I do not feel that 
I need mercy. Now, all was right ; the sweetest re- 
ception, the most loving encouragements, the most 
refreshing answers, this confession of the truth 
brought down from heaven. I did not get anything 
by declaring myself a sinner, for I felt it not ; but I 
obtained everything by confessing that I did not sea 
myself one." 


satisfaction with your own faith, is what 
God expects of you. " I am satisfied with 
Christ/' you say. Are you ? Then you 
are a believing man ; and what more do 
you wish ? Is not satisfaction with Christ 
enough for you or for any sinner ? Nay, 
and is not this the truest kind of faith ? 
To be satisfied with Christ, is faith in 
Christ. To be satisfied with his blood, is 
faith in his blood. Do not bewilder your- 
self, or allow others to bewilder you. Be 
assured that the very essence of faith is 
being satisfied with Christ and his sin- 
bearing work ; ask no more questions about 
faith ,but go upon your way rejoicing, as 
one to whom Christ is all. 

Remember the Baptist's words, "He must 
increase, but I must decrease," (John iii. 
30). Self, in every form, must decrease, 
and Christ must increase. To become satis- 
fied with your faith, would look as if you 
were dissatisfied with Christ. The begin- 
ning, the middle, and end of your course, 


must be dissatisfaction with self and satisfac- 
tion with Christ. Be content to be satisfied 
with faith's glorious object, and let faith it- 
self be forgotten. Faith, however perfect, 
has nothing to give you. It points you to 
Jesus. It bids you look away from itself 
to Him. It says, " Christ is all." It bids 
you look to him who says, " Look unto me ;" 
who says, " Fear not, I am the first and the 
last ; I am he that liveth and was dead, 
and behold I am alive for evermore," (Rev. 
i. 17, 18). 

If you were required to believe in your 
own faith, to ascertain its quality, and to 
know that you are born again, before you 
were warranted to trust in Jesus, or to have 
peace, you would certainly need to be satis- 
fied with your own faith. But you are not 
required to make good any personal claim, 
save that you are a sinner ; — not that you 
feel yourself to be one (that would open up 
an endless metaphysical inquiry into your 
own feelings) ; — but simply that you are 


one. This you know upon God's authority, 
and learn from his word ; and on this you 
act, whether you feel your sinfulness or 
not. The gospel needs no ascertaining of 
anything about ourselves, save what is 
written in the Bible, and what is common 
to all Adam's children, — that we need a 
Saviour. It is upon this need that faith 
acts ; it is this need that faith presents at 
the throne of grace. The question, then, is 
not, Am I satisfied with my faith ? but, Am 
I a needy sinner, and am I satisfied that 
in Christ there is all I need ? 

You say, " I am not satisfied with my 
love." What ! Did you expect to be so ? 
Is it your love to Christ, or his love to you, 
that is to bring you peace ? God's free 
love to sinners, as such, is our resting-place. 
There are two kinds of love in God, — his 
love of compassion to the unbelieving sin- 
ner, and his love of delight and com- 
placency to his believing children. A 
father's love to a prodigal child is quite as 


sincere as his love to his obedient, loving 
child at home ; though it be of a different 
kind. God cannot love you as a believer 
till you are such. But he loves you as a 
poor sinner. And it is on this love of his 
to the unloving and unloveable that affords 
the sinner his first resting-place. This free 
love of God satisfies and attracts him. 
" Herein is love, not that we loved God, 
but that he loved us." " We love him be- 
cause he first loved us." " God so loved 
the world that he gave his only begotten 

" I am not satisfied with my repentance," 
you say. It is well. What should you 
have thought of yourself had you been so ? 
What pride and self-righteousness would it 
indicate, were you saying, " I am satisfied 
with my repentance, — it is of the proper 
quality and amount." If satisfied with it, 
what would you do with it % Would you 
ground your peace upon it ? Would you 
pacify your conscience with it Would 


you go with it instead of the blood to a 
holy God ? If not, what do you mean by 
the desire to be satisfied with your re- 
pentance before having peace with God ? 

In short, you are not satisfied with any 
of your religious feelings ; and it is well 
that you are not so ; for, if you were, you 
must have a very high idea of yourself, 
and a very low idea of what both law and 
gospel expect of you. You are, I doubt 
not, right in not being satisfied with the 
state of your feelings ; but what has this 
to do with the great duty of immediately 
believing on the Son of God % If the gos- 
pel is nothing to you till you have got 
your feelings all set right, it «is no gospel 
for the sinner at all. But this is its special 
fitness and glory, that it takes you up at 
the very point where you are at this mo- 
ment, and brings you glad tidings in spite 
of your feelings being altogether wrong. 

All these difficulties of yours have their 
root in the self-esteem of our natures, which 


makes us refuse to be counted altogether 
sinners, and which shrinks from going to 
God, save with some personal recommenda- 
tion to make acceptance likely. Utter 
want of goodness is what we are slow to 
acknowledge. Give up these attempts to 
be satisfied with yourself in anything, great 
or small, faith, feeling, or action. The 
Holy Spirit's work in convincing you of 
sin, is to make you dissatisfied with your- 
self ; and will you pursue a course which 
can only grieve him away? God can never 
be satisfied with you on account of any 
goodness about you ; and why should you 
attempt to be satisfied with anything which 
will not satisfy him ? There is but one 
thing with which he is entirely satisfied, — 
the person and work of his only-begotten 
Son. It is with Him that he wants you to 
be satisfied, not with yourself. How much 
better would it be to take God's way at 
once, and be satisfied with Christ ? Then 
would pardon and peace be given without 


delay. Then would the favour of God rest 
upon you. For God has declared, that 
whoever is satisfied with Christ shall find 
favour with him. His desire is that you 
should come to be at one with him in this 
great thing. He asks nothing of you, save 
this. But with nothing else than this will 
he be content, nor will he receive you on 
any other footing, save that of one who has 
come to be satisfied with Christ, and with 
what Christ has done. 

Surely all this is simple enough. Does 
it exactly meet your case. Satisfaction with 
yourself, even could you get it, would do 
nothing for you. Satisfaction with Christ 
would do everything ; for Christ is ALL. 
" This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well 
pleased." Be pleased with him, in whom 
the Father is pleased, and all is well. 

I suspect that some of those difficulties 
of yours arise from the secret idea that the 
gospel is just a sort of modified law, by 
keeping which you are to be saved. You 


know that the old law is far above } r our 
reach, and that it condemns, but cannot 
save you. But you think, perhaps, that 
Christ came to make the law easier, to 
lower its demands, to make it (as some say) 
an evangelical law, with milder terms, suited 
to the sinner's weakness. That this is 
blasphemy, a moment's thought will shew 
you. For it means that the former law 
was too strict ; that is, it was not " holy, 
and just, and good." It denies also Christ's 
words, that he " came not to destroy but to 
fulfil the law." God has but one law, and 
it is perfect ; its substance is, love to God 
and man. A milder law must mean an im- 
perfect one ; a law that makes God's one 
law unnecessary ; a law that gives counte- 
nance to sin. Will obedience to an imper- 
fect law save a breaker of the perfect law ? 
But faith does not make void the law ; it 
establishes it, (Bom. iii. 31). 

It is by a perfect law that we are saved ; 
else it would be an unholy salvation. It is 


by a perfect law, fulfilled in every "jot and 
tittle/' that we are saved ; else it would be 
an unrighteous salvation. The Son of God 
has kept the law for us ; he has magnified 
it and made it honourable ; and thus we 
have a holy and righteous salvation. Though 
above law in himself, he was made "under 
the law" (Gal. iv. 4) for us ; and by the 
vicarious law-keeping of his spotless life, 
as well as by endurance unto death of that 
law's awful penalties, we are redeemed from 
the curse of the law. " Christ is the end 
(the fulfilling and exhausting) of the law, 
for righteousness to every one that be- 
lieveth," (Rom. x. 4). For Christ is not a 
helper, but a Saviour. He has not come 
to enable us to save ourselves, by keeping a 
mitigated law ; but to keep the unmitigated 
law in our room, that the law might have 
no claim for penalty, upon any sinner who 
will only consent to be indebted to the 
law-keeping and law-enduring of the divine 


Others of your difficulties spring from con- 
founding the work of the Spirit in us with 
the work of Christ for us. These two must be 
kept distinct ; for the intermingling of them 
is the subversion of both. Beware of over- 
looking either ; beware of keeping them at 
a distance from each other. Though quite 
distinct, they go hand in hand, insejDarably 
linked together, yet each having its own 
place and its own office. Your medicine 
and your physician are not the same, yet 
they go togeth er. Christ is your medicine, 
the Spirit is your physician. Do not take 
the two works as if they were one com- 
pounded work ; nor try to build your peace 
upon some mystic gospel which is made up 
of a strange mixture of the two. Eealise 
both, tus outward and the inward ; the 
objective and the subjective ; Christ for us, 
the Holy Spirit in us. 

As at the first, so to the last, must this 
distinctiveness be observed, lest, having 
found peace in believing, you lose it by not 


holding the beginning of your confidence 
stedfast unto the end. " "When I begin to 
doubt," writes one, " I quiet my doubts by 
going back to the place where I got them 
first quieted ; I go and get peace again 
where I got it at the beginning; I do not sit 
down gloomily to muse over my own faith 
or unbelief, but over the finished work of 
Immanuel ; I dont try to reckon up my ex- 
periences, to prove that I once was a be- 
liever, but I believe again as I did before ; 
I dont examine the evidence of the Spirit's 
work in me, but I think of the sure evi- 
dences which I have of Christ's work for 
me, in his death, and burial, and resurrec- 
tion. This is the restoration of my peace. 
I had begun to look at other objects ; I am 
now recalled from my wanderings to look 
at Jesus only."* 

* "Thus the poor and sorrowful soul, instead of 
being at once led to the source of all good, is taught 
to make much of the conflict of truth and falsehood 
within it as the pledge of God's love ; and to picture 




Some of your difficulties seem to arise 
from a mixing up of the natural and the 
supernatural. Now the marvellous thing 
in conversion is, tha.t while all is super- 
natural (being the entire work of the 
Holy Ghost), all is also natural. You 
are, perhaps unconsciously, expecting some 
miraculous illapse of heavenly power and 
brightness into your soul ; something apart 
from divine truth, and from the working of 

to itself faitli as a sort of passive quality, which sits 
amid the ruins of human nature, and keeps up what 
may he called a silent protest, or indulges a pensive 
meditation over its misery. And, indeed, faith thus 
regarded, cannot do more, for while it acts, not to 
lead the soul to Christ, but to detain it from him, how 
can the soul hut remain a prisoner ? True faith is 
what may he called colourless, like air or water ; it is 
hut the medium through which the soul sees Christ, 
and the soul as little rests on it and contemplates it, 
as the eye can see the air. "When men, then, are bent 
on holding it, as it were, in their hands, curiously in- 
specting, analysing, and so aiming at it, they are 
obliged to col >ur and thicken it, that it may be seen 
and touched. That i^ they substitute for it, some- 


man's powers of mind. You have been ex- 
pecting fait h to descend, like an angel from 
heaven, into your soul, and hope to be 
lighted up lik'3 a new star in your firma- 
ment. It is not so. Whilst the Spirit's 
work is beyond nature, it is not against 
nature. He displaces no faculty ; he dis- 
turbs no mental process ; he does violence 
to no part of our moral framework ; he 
creates no new organ of thought or feeling. 

thing or other, a feeling, notion, sentiment, conviction, 
an act of reason, which they may hang over and doat upon. 
They rather aim at experiences within them, than at 
Him who is without them. Now, men who are acted 
on by news, good and bad, or sights beautiful or fear- 
ful, admire, rejoice, weep, or are pained, hut are moved 
spontaneously, not with a direct consciousness of their 
emotion. So is it with faith and other Christian 
graces. Bystanders see our minds, hut our minds, if 
healthy, see but the objects which possess them. .As 
God's grace elicits our faith, so his holiness stirs our 
fear, and his glory kindles our love. Others say often, 
Here is faith, and there is conscientiousness, and there 
is love ; but wo can only say, This is God's grace, and 
that is his holi less and that is his glory. 5 ' 


His office is to " set all to rights " within 
you ; so that you never feel so calm, so 
true, so real, so perfectly natural, so much 
yourself, — as when He has taken possession 
of you in every part ; and filled your whole 
man with his heavenly joy. Never do you 
feel so perfectly free, — less constrained 
and less mechanical, — in every faculty, 
as when he has "brought every thought 
into captivity to the obedience of Christ." 
The heavenly life imparted is liberty, 
and truth, and peace ; it is the removal 
of bondage, and darkness, and pain. So far 
from being a mechanical constraint, as some 
would represent, it is the removal of the iron 
chain with which guilt had bound the sinner. 
It acts like an army of liberation to a down- 
trodden country ; like the warm breath of 
sj)ring to the frost-fettered tree. For the 
entrance of true life, or living truth, into 
man's soul, must be liberty, not bondage. 
" The truth shall make you free." 

Other difficulties arise out of confused 


ideas as to the proper order of truth. 
Misplaced truth is sometimes more injuri- 
ous than actual error. In our statements 
of doctrine, we are to have regard to God's 
order of things, as well as to the things 
themselves. If you would solve the sim- 
plest question in arithmetic, the figures 
must not only be the proper ones, but they 
must be placed in proper order. So is it 
with the doctrines of the word of God. 
Some seem to fling them about in ill-as- 
sorted couples, or confused bundles, as if it 
mattered little to the hearer or reader what 
order was preserved, provided only certain 
truths were distinctly announced. Much 
trouble to the anxious spirit has arisen from 
this reckless confusion. A gospel in which 
election is placed first is not the gospel of 
the apostles ; though certainly a gospel 
in which election is denied is still less 
the apostolic gospel. The true gospel is 
neither that Christ died for the elect, nor 
that he ditd for the whole world ; for the 


excellency of the gospel does not lie in it? 
announcement of the numbers to be saved, 
but in its proclamation of the great pro- 
pitiation itself. Some who are supposed to 
be holding fast " the form of sound words " 
present us with a mere dislocation of the gos- 
pel, the different truths being so jumbled, 
that while they may be all there, they pro- 
duce no result. They rather so neutralise 
each other as to prevent the sinner extract- 
ing from them the good news which, wnen 
rightly put together, they most assuredly 
contain. If the verses or chapters of the 
Epistle to the Romans were transposed or 
jumbled together, would it be the Epistle 
to the Romans, though every word were 
there ? So, if, in teaching the gospel, we 
do not begin at the beginning ; if, for in- 
stance, we tell the sinner what he has to 
do, before we tell him what God has done ; 
if we tell him to examine his own heart 
before we tell him to study the cross of 
Christ; we take out the whole gladness 


from the glad tidings, and preach " another 

Do we not often, too, read the Bible as 
if it were a book of law, and not the re- 
velation of grace % In so doing, we draw 
a cloud over it, and read it as a volume 
written by a hard master. So that a harsh 
tone is imparted in its words, and the legal 
element is made to obscure the evamgeli* 
cat. We are slow to read it as the expan- 
sion of the first gracious promise to man ; as 
a revelation of the love of the Father, Son 
and Holy Ghost ; as the book of grace, 
specially written for us by the Spirit of 
grace. The law is in it, yet the Bible is 
not law, but gospel. As Mount Sinai rears 
its head, an isolated mass of hard, red 
granite, amid a thousand desert mountains 
of softer and less stern material, so does 
the law stand in the Bible ; — a necessary 
part of it, — but not the characteristic of it ; 
" added because of transgressions till the 
»eed should come," (Gal. iii. 19). Yet have 


not our suspicious hearts darkened this 
book of light ? Do we not often read it as 
the proclamation of a command to do, in- 
stead of a declaration of what the love of 
God has done ? 

Oh, strange ! "We believe in Satan's will- 
ingness to tempt and to injure ; but not in 
God's willingness to deliver and to save ! 
Nay more, we yield to our great enemy 
when he seduces into sin, and leads away 
from Christ and heaven ; but we will not 
yield to our truest friend, when he draws 
us with the cords of a man, and with bands 
of love ! We will not give God the credit 
for speaking truly when he speaks in ten- 
der mercy, and utters over the sinner the 
yearnings of his unfathomable pity. We 
listen, as if his words were hollow ; as if he 
did not mean what he says ; as if his mes- 
sages of grace, instead of being the most 
thoroughly sincere that ever fell on human 
ears, were mere words of course. 

There is nothing in the whole Bible to 


repel the sinner, and yet the sinner will not 
come ! There is everything to draw and to 
win ; yet the sinner stands aloof ! Christ 
receiveth sinners ; yet the sinner turns 
away ! He yearns over them, weeps over 
them, as over Jerusalem ; yet the sinner 
is unmoved ! The heavenly compassion 
is unavailing ; the infinite long-suffering 
touches not the stony heart, and the divine 
tears are thrown away. The Son of God 
stretches out his hands all the day long, 
but the outstretched hands are disregarded. 
All, all seems in vain to arrest the heedless, 
and to win back the wanderer. 

Oh the amount of divine love that has 
been expended upon this sad world; — that 
has been brought to bear upon the needy 
sons of men ! We sometimes almost doubt 
whether it be true or possible, that God 
should lavish such a love on such a world. 
But the cross is the blessed memorial of 
the love, and that saying stands unchange- 
able; " God so loved the world, that he gave 


his only begotten Son." Sometimes, too, 
we say, What is the use of throwing away 
such love 1 Is not the earnestness of God 
disproportioned to the littleness of its ob- 
ject, — man? It would be so were this life 
all ; were there no eternity, no heaven, no 
hell, no endless gladness, and no everlasting 
woe. But with such a destiny as man's ; 
with an eternity like that which is in store 
for him, — can any amount of earnestness 
be too great ? Can love or pity exceed 
their bounds ? Can the joy or grief over a 
sinner saved or lost be exaggerated ? 

He, whose infinite mind knows what 
heaven is, knows what its loss must be to 
an immortal being. Can He be too much 
in earnest about its gain 1 He whose all- 
reaching foresight knows what hell is, in 
all its never-ending anguish, sees afar off, 
and fathoms the horrors of the lost soul, 
its weeping and wailing and gnashing of 
teeth for ever and .for ever ; its horrible 
sense of condemnation and immitigable 


woe ; its cutting remorse, its too late re- 
pentance, its hopeless sighs, its bitter me- 
mories of earth's sunny hours ; with all the 
thousand sadnesses that go to make up the 
sum total of a lost eternity ! Can he then 
pity too much % Can he yearn too ten- 
derly over souls that are madly bent on 
flinging themselves into a doom like this \ 
Can he use words too strong or too affec- 
tionate, in warning them against such a 
darkness, and such a devil, and such a hell \ 
Can he put forth words too affectionate in 
beseeching them to make sure of such a 
heaven as his ? 

In the minds of some, the idea prevails, 
that sin quenches pity for the sinner, in the 
heart of God. 

It is not so. That it shall do so here- 
after, and that God will cease to pity the 
lost, is an awful truth. The lost soul's 
eternity will be an unpitied eternity of 

But, meanwhile, God's hatred of the sin is 


not hatred of the sinner. Nay, the great- 
ness of his sin seems rather to deepen than 
to lessen the divine compassion. At least 
we may say that the increasing misery 
which increasing sin entails, calls into new 
intensity the paternal pity of the God of 
the spirits of all flesh. " It grieves him at 
his heart," (Gen. vi. 6). The farther the 
prodigal goes into the far country, the more 
do the yearnings of the father's heart go 
out after him, in unfeigned compassion for 
the wretched wanderer, in his famine, and 
nakedness, and degradation, and hopeless 

No ; sin does not quench the pitying love 
of God. The kindest words ever spoken 
to Israel were in the very height of their 
apostasy and rebellion. The most gracious 
invitation ever uttered by the Lord was to 
Capernaum, and Bethsaida, and Chorazin, 
" Come unto me." The most loving mes- 
sage ever sent to a Church was that to 
Laodicea, the worst of all the seven, " Be- 


hold I stand at the door and knock." It 
was Jerusalem, in her utmost extremity of 
guilt, and rebellion, and unbelief, that drew 
forth the tears of the Son of God. No ; sin 
does not extinguish the love of God to the 
sinner. Many waters cannot quench it, 
nor can the floods drown it. From first to 
last, God pursues the sinner as he flies from 
him ; pursues him not in hatred, but in 
love ; pursues him not to destroy, but to 
pardon and to save. 

God is not a man that he should lie. 
He means what he says, when he speaks in 
pity, as truly as when he speaks in wrath. 
His words are not mere random expressions, 
such as man often uses when uttering vague 
sentiment, or trying to produce an impres- 
sion by exaggerated representations of his 
feelings. God's words are all true and 
real. You cannot exaggerate the genuine 
feeling which they contain ; and to under- 
stand them as figures, is not only to con- 
vert them into unrealities, but to treat them 



as falsehoods. Let sinners take God's "words 
as they are ; the genuine expressions of 
the mind of that infinitely truthful Being, 
who never uses but the words cf " truth 
and soberness." He is sovereign ; but that 
sovereignty is not at war with grace ; nor 
does it lead to insincerity of speech, as 
some seem to think it does. Whether we 
can reconcile the sovereignty with the pity, 
it matters not. Let us believe them both, 
because both are revealed in the Bible. 
Nor let us ever resort to an explanation of 
the words of pity, which would imply that 
they were not sincerely spoken ; and that 
if a sinner took them too literally and too 
simply, he would be sorely disappointed ; — 
finding at last them mere exaggerations, 
if not empty air. 

Oh let us learn to treat God as not merely 
the wisest, and the highest, and the holiest, 
but as the most truthful of all beings. 
Let the heedless sinner hear his truthful 
warnings, and tremble ; for they shall all 


be fulfilled. Let the anxious sinner listen 
to his truthful words of grace, and be at 
peace. "We need to be told this. For 
there is in the minds of many, a feeling of 
sad distrust as to the sincerity of the divine 
utterances, and a proneness to evade their 
plain and honest meaning. Let us do 
justice, not merely to the love, but to the 
truthfulness, of God. There are many who 
need to be reminded of this; — yes, many, 
who do not seem to be at all aware of 
their propensity to doubt even the simple 
truthfulness of the God of truth. 

God is love. Yes, God is love. Can 
such a God be suspected of insincerity in 
the declarations of his long-suffering, yearn- 
ing compassion toward the most rebellious 
and impenitent of the sons of men ? That 
there is such a thing as righteousness ; that 
there is such a place as hell ; that there are 
such beings as lost angels and lost men, we 
know to be awful certainties. But however 
terrible and howeve&true these things may 


be, they cannot cast the slightest doubt 
upon the sincerity of the great oath which 
God has sworn before heaven and earth, 
that he has " no pleasure in the- death of 
the wicked ; but that the wicked turn from 
his way and live ;" nor in the least blunt 
the solemn edge of his gracious entreaty, 
"Turn ye ; tuen ye, for why will yk 





Conf . 






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